VIENNA, Austria (AP) — U.N. investigators are increasingly
certain Pakistan government leaders knew the country’s top
atomic scientist was supplying other nations with nuclear
technology and designs, particularly North Korea, diplomats told
The Associated Press.
While rogue nations were the main customers of the nuclear black
market, sales of enriched uranium and warhead drawings have fed
international fears that terrorists also could have bought weapons
technology or material, the diplomats said.
The investigation has widened beyond Iran, Libya and North Korea
— the identified customers of the network headed by Abdul
Qadeer Khan — they said, speaking on condition of anonymity
in a series of interviews.
The diplomats’ assessment comes about half way through the
probe by the International Atomic Energy Agency and western
intelligence services into the Khan network, whose tentacles
extended from Pakistan to Dubai, Malaysia, South Korea,
Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Britain, the Netherlands and beyond
with potential ties to Syria, Turkey and Spain.
Investigators said they expect to complete the probe by June,
eight months after U.S. officials confronted the Pakistani
government with suspicions about Khan, setting into motion events
that led the father of Islamabad’s nuclear program to confess
Despite denials by the Pakistani government, investigators now
are certain that some, if not all, of the country’s decision
makers were aware of Khan’s dealings, especially with North
Korea, which apparently helped Islamabad build missiles in exchange
for aid with its nuclear arms program, said one diplomat.
“In all cases except Pakistan, we are sure there was no
government involvement,” he said. “In Pakistan,
it’s hard to believe all this happened under their noses and
nobody knew about it.”
The diplomats didn’t say which parts of the Pakistani
government might have known of Khan’s black market activity
— ºmilitary, political or both.
Andrew Koch, of Jane’s Defense Weekly, said he ran into
evidence that senior military officers knew of Khan’s
sideline four years ago when he attended a military technology
exhibition in Karachi. There, the booth of A.Q. Khan’s
Research Laboratories, complete with pamphlets offering uranium
enrichment equipment, shared space with displays of electronics,
anti-tank missiles and other items sold by the government defense
industry, he said.
Revealing a secret market
Trade part of wider ring of transactions
- Sales of enriched uranium and designs for warheads have
heightened fears of international terrorism.
- Investigators believe that Pakistan knew its top atomic
scientist had traded arms designs and technology with North
- In return, officials say, North Korea aided Pakistan in
building missiles in the capital of Islamabad.