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Bush tears apart Khan’s N-network
Pakistani scientist went on selling dangerous knowhow
Ashish Kumar Sen
Tribune News Service

Washington, February 12
Abdul Qadeer Khan served as “director of the proliferation network, was its leading scientific mind, as well as its primary salesman,” President George W. Bush said on Wednesday.

In a speech that, for the first time, laid out in intricate detail the extent of intelligence available on the Pakistani scientist’s network, Mr Bush said Dr Khan and his associates provided Iran, Libya and North Korea with designs for Pakistan’s older centrifuges as well as designs for more advanced and efficient models.

The President said other governments worked closely with Washington to unravel Dr Khan’s network, but he did not name them. Over the past decade, he said, Dr Khan made frequent trips to “consult with his clients and to sell his expertise.”

Both Iran and North Korea have denied having received nuclear secrets from Dr Khan.

The Pakistani scientist and his associates “sold the blueprints for centrifuges to enrich uranium, as well as a nuclear design stolen from the Pakistani government. The network sold uranium hexafluoride, the gas that the centrifuge process can transform into enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.”

Mr Bush said for decades, Dr Khan remained on the Pakistani government payroll, earning a modest salary. Yet, he and his associates financed lavish lifestyles through the sale of nuclear technologies and equipment to outlawed regimes stretching from North Africa to the Korean Peninsula.

Following Dr Khan’s confession last week, the government of Pakistan is interrogating members of his network. Mr Bush said Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had promised to share all the information he gets about the network, “and has assured us that his country will never again be a source of proliferation.”

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the department had been providing Pakistani officials with evidence of a black market in nuclear technology for years. Gen Musharraf told the New York Times earlier this week that the US had not given him convincing proof of Dr Khan’s activities until October.

According to intelligence presented by Mr Bush, Dr Khan and his associates used a factory in Malaysia to manufacture key parts for centrifuges. Other necessary parts were purchased through network operatives based in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “These procurement agents saw the trade in nuclear technologies as a shortcut to personal wealth, and they set up front companies to deceive legitimate firms into selling them tightly controlled materials,” Mr Bush said.

Dr Khan’s deputy, B.S.A. Tahir, allegedly ran SMB computers in Dubai. According to the President, Mr Tahir used the firm as a front for the proliferation activities. Mr Tahir acted as the network’s chief financial officer as well as money launderer.

“He was also its shipping agent, using his computer firm as cover for the movement of centrifuge parts to various clients,” Mr Bush said, adding, Mr Tahir directed the Malaysia facility to produce these parts based on Pakistani designs, and then ordered the facility to ship the components to Dubai. Mr Tahir also arranged for parts acquired by other European procurement agents to transit through Dubai for shipment to other customers.

Mr Tahir is in Malaysia, where authorities are investigating his activities.

Mr Bush said Malaysian authorities have assured his administration that the factory the network used is no longer producing centrifuge parts. While other members of the network remain at large, the President assured: “One by one, they will be found, and their careers in the weapons trade will be ended.”

American and British intelligence officers worked for several years piecing together the findings elaborated upon in Mr Bush’s speech on Wednesday. “Our intelligence services gradually uncovered this network’s reach, and identified its key experts and agents and money men,” Mr Bush said. “Operatives followed its transactions, mapped the extent of its operations. They monitored the travel of A.Q. Khan and senior associates. They shadowed members of the network around the world, they recorded their conversations, they penetrated their operations, we’ve uncovered their secrets.”

These intelligence officers identified a shipment of advanced centrifuge parts manufactured at the Malaysia facility. This shipment was followed to Dubai, and watched as it was transferred to the BBC China, a German-owned ship. After the ship passed through the Suez Canal, bound for Libya, German and Italian authorities stopped it, the President said.

“They found several containers, each 40 ft in length, listed on the ship’s manifest as full of used machine parts. In fact, these containers were filled with parts of sophisticated centrifuges.”

The interception of the BBC China came as Libyan and British and American officials were discussing the possibility of Libya ending its WMD programmes.

Mr Bush said: “There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated. Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action. Every civilised nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”



Non-proliferation order not adequate: MEA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
The Government of India today chose to respond in a measured and diplomatic manner to US President George W Bush’s yesterday’s speech on the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) while saying that the existing non-proliferation order was “inadequate”.

The Ministry of External Affairs here issued a brief statement underlining the need for adopting fresh approaches to meet the new proliferation challenges. The MEA statement conveys a point across not only to Pakistan despite the ongoing peace offensive between the two neighbours but also politely reproaches the international community for not dealing with the menace seriously enough.

The MEA statement said: “It is clear that the existing non-proliferation order is inadequate. Recent examples have shown that non-proliferation obligations have not always been treated with adequate seriousness. We believe that meeting new proliferation challenges requires fresh approaches, pooling together the efforts and resources of the international community.”

The MEA statement welcomed President Bush’s emphasis on the imperative of collective action to check WMD proliferation as well as multilateral consultations between all partners against proliferation on developing an effective framework.



Pak promises no further N-proliferation

Islamabad, February 12
Amid concern over clandestine sale of nuclear technology by Pakistan’s top scientist A.Q. Khan, President Pervez Musharraf said the government had closed all channels of leaks of technology in the nuclear establishment.

Addressing the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee consisting of the Service Chiefs and other top military officials, the General also said Pakistan would continue to cooperate with the international community to eliminate the nuclear black market. — PTI


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