A Q Khan Nuclear Proliferation Controversy Reignites...

Some evidence of proliferation may be made public
By Iftikhar A. Khan, Dawn, July 7, 2008

ISLAMABAD, July 6: The government is seriously considering making public some of the evidence collected during the last three years about the proliferation network and Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s alleged role in order to counter the recent media campaign of the detained nuclear scientist to establish his innocence.

Perhaps Dr Khan is up for a shock as he may not know that almost all the ‘debriefing’ or ‘interrogation’ sessions the Pakistani investigators had held, and during which almost every detail of the international proliferation operation had come to light, were video-taped. And these 60 hours of recordings contain as explosive a material about the proliferation network as a nuclear bomb could be. And a senior government official claims that on several occasions during the debriefing Dr Khan confessed to his involvement, at times describing them as honest mistakes, slips or oversights.

Dr Khan, however, insists that he is innocent, and in a series of recent interviews has denied any wrongdoing.

Despite such statements by the detained scientists, these officials say Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other members of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, as well as a number of other ministers, are in full picture regarding the investigation.

According to a cabinet minister, the detailed power-point briefing given to them leaves little doubt about Dr Khan’s role in the proliferation network. On the prime minister’s instruction, a similar briefing was also given to Nawaz Sharif at the Punjab House, but at that time, and on Mr Gilani’s instructions, the decision regarding any action against Dr Khan was put on hold. But now the authorities are seriously considering going for his trial, where most of this evidence could be presented on top of the material collected with the help of other countries like Britain, Germany, UAE and Switzerland, where many members of the proliferation network have been arrested.

A former ISI chief, who was indirectly overseeing the probe into the network’s activities, says the Pakistani investigators have mapped out the manner in which the network operated out of Pakistan, and how some top officials of the Kahuta Research Laboratory (KRL) used their otherwise unchecked authority to use various shipments for proliferation. The role of a Sri Lankan shady character, Burhary Sayed Abu Tahir, as a close associate of Dr Khan, comes quite prominently in such findings. He is described as the lynchpin in the shipment racket of precision tools from Malaysia and other equipment and their components from Pakistan to their hub in Dubai for onward supply to various countries, particularly Iran and Libya.

A government official present at the briefing said details presented by the investigators showed that in most cases equipment parts of ‘P-1’- and ‘P-2’- type centrifuges and other material were shipped out through various companies, either as scrap or damaged parts. However, in one particular case, centrifuges were smuggled out to Libya in casings of ‘Baktar Shikan’ anti-tank missiles that were being exported to Libya, and which were being manufactured at KRL.

Other materials allegedly smuggled out included several documents, bomb designs, and a 15-page convergence design document.

He said this largely happened because the KRL had a blanket cover to get its consignments pass through customs and security without any check. During the height of proliferation, during 1987 to 1998, the official said, about 18 tonnes of material were smuggled out by air in small- and medium-size crates.

The shipments of centrifuges to North Korea were much later, and were separate from the earlier operation, the officials said.

Experts and analysts say in that the wake of the claims and counter-claims, and contradictory statements by Dr Khan and the SPD chief Gen Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, the only way to establish the truth could be by way of presenting documentary evidence either before parliament or in a court of law.

Also see:
Offer to share ‘proof with neutrals’: Govt’s riposte to A.Q. Khan’s tirade - Dawn, July 6, 2008
Dr Khan ready for a deal — or death - The News, July 7, 2008
Nuclear divide of politics - Mooed Peerzada
Mordechai Vanunu - By Ahmed Quraishi

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