Father of Pakistan’s Bomb in Trouble-Khan May be Assisting Iran, Iraq and North Korea

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — The man who made Pakistan’s nuclear bomb is in trouble. Recent reports in the Western media blame Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan for assisting Iran, Iraq and North Korea, the states described as the “axis of evil” by Pres. George W. Bush. A pamphlet, seen by the United Press International, indicates Khan had also put nuclear related technology on sale on the open market. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. officials believe Khan has been secretly cooperating with Iran, Iraq and North Korea. The L.A. Times report said U.S. intelligence has long known of Khan’s activities but North Korea’s declaration last month that it was reviving its nuclear weapons program drew international attention to the Pakistani scientist. The 66-year-old metallurgist is a national hero in Pakistan where children and places are named after him. But U.S. officials disagree. “If the international community had a proliferation most-wanted list, A. Q. Khan would be most wanted on the list,” says Robert Einhorn, who was assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation in the Clinton administration. Meanwhile, UPI has received the copy of a pamphlet purportedly distributed by A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories, the organization Khan used to head, offering vacuum technology for sale. Experts say the technology can also be used in nuclear plants and thus the offer can be interpreted as promoting nuclear technology. The pamphlet has a Rawalpindi, Pakistani, address, P.O. Box 502, and has pictures of the equipment it promotes. It also has a picture of Dr. Khan on the extreme right corner wearing the medals awarded by the government of Pakistan. A message distributed with the pamphlet says: “Besides manufacturing of vacuum components and systems, our vacuum consultancy services are also available for system design, operational troubleshooting, quality assurance, maintenance, system development and human resource training.” Experts in Washington seem particularly concerned about the offer of “human resource training” because they claimed it was offering to train people for making a key component of a nuclear plant. David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security says that Khan learned centrifugal technology he used for building Pakistan’s nuclear reactor while working at a plant in Holland in the 1970s. In 1998, Ernest Piffl, managing director of the German firm GmbH near Stuttgart received a three-and-half-year sentence for illegally exporting thousands of performs for gas centrifuge scoops to Pakistan’s secret uranium enrichment program. Performs are partially finished cast or machined components and the ones sent to Pakistan were made of a special aluminum alloy and looked like small thin-wall pipes. Bending and finishing these little pipes would have been done at the point of assembly of the centrifuge. Talking to reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said if the allegation that Pakistan has transferred nuclear technology to North Korea in return for North Korean missiles was proven, it will have affect Tokyo’s relations with Islamabad. “This would naturally have an impact on bilateral relations between Japan and Pakistan if this was continuing or taking place,” said Kawaguchi after talks with her Indian counterpart, Yashwant Sinha. “Japan is the only country that has suffered the consequences of nuclear bombs. We remain committed to opposing all forms of nuclear proliferation,” she said. The United States, however, refused to talk “specifically” about Dr. Khan. “We talked to Pakistan about transfers of nuclear technology,” a State Department official told UPI. “Pakistan recognizes the serious of any kind of proliferation activity involving North Korea,” he added. The official said that Secretary of State Colin Powell talked about this issue in Mexico City back in November, when the U.S. media first reported that Pakistan had assisted North Korea’s nuclear program. “Secretary Powell said at that time that he had had very specific conversations with Pakistan’s Pres. Pervez Musharraf in recent months in which President Musharraf assured us that Pakistan was not participating in any activity of that nature,” the official said. In Islamabad, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that all such allegations were baseless and said that neither Khan nor any Pakistani scientist had offered “nuclear or nuclear related technology to any country in the world.” Last year, Pres. Pervez Musharraf abruptly removed Khan as head of Pakistan’s nuclear program, causing speculations that it was done under U.S. pressure because Washington was getting uncomfortable with Khan’s activities. Khan also has shrugged off the charges. “I built a weapon of peace, which seems hard to understand until you realize Pakistan’s nuclear capability is a deterrent to aggressors. There has not been a war in the last 30 years, and I don’t expect one in the future. The stakes are too high,” he said. Despite these denials, recent media reports blamed Khan also for helping Iran and Iraq. In 1986, Pakistan and Iran signed a nuclear cooperation agreement after Khan visited Bushehr, a nuclear power plant that Teheran is building with Russian help. The reports say that Khan’s name also appeared in a letter offering to “manufacture a nuclear weapon” for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. ”Anwar Iqbal is the UPI South Asian Affairs Analyst.” Copyright 2003 by United Press International. 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