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Pakistan's A.Q. Khan Is Said to Admit Nuclear Transfers to Iran, Libya, N. Korea

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    -Pakistan Fires Top Nuclear Scientist -Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers Washington Post Pakistan Fires Top Nuclear Scientist By John Lancaster and
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2004
      -Pakistan Fires Top Nuclear Scientist
      -Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers

      Washington Post
      Pakistan Fires Top Nuclear Scientist
      By John Lancaster and Kamran Khan
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Sunday, February 1, 2004; Page A01


      ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 31 -- Pakistan's most
      prominent nuclear weapons scientist, Abdul Qadeer
      Khan, was fired from his government job Saturday after
      investigators concluded that he made millions of
      dollars from the sale of nuclear secrets to Iran and
      Libya, officials said.

      The wealth that Khan accumulated during 30 years as a
      government servant, on a salary estimated now at
      $2,000 per month, is part of evidence that officials
      say led Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president,
      to conclude that he had no choice but to take action
      against Khan, the flamboyant, European-trained
      metallurgist who is widely regarded as the father of
      Pakistan's nuclear bomb.

      Khan, 67, counts among his assets four houses in
      Islamabad, a palatial lakeside retreat in the nearby
      village of Bani Gala, ownership shares in two
      restaurants and a hotel in Timbuktu, Mali, that he
      named for his wife, who is of Dutch ancestry,
      according to Pakistani investigators.

      The decision to dismiss Khan from his post as a
      science adviser to the prime minister came at a
      meeting Saturday morning of the National Command
      Authority, which is made up of senior military and
      civilian officials and is chaired by Musharraf.

      But Musharraf postponed a decision on whether to
      pursue criminal charges against Khan, who
      investigators say routed blueprints and other
      technical assistance to Iran and Libya by means of a
      nuclear black market in the Persian Gulf emirate of
      Dubai and -- in the case of Iran -- through a program
      to promote non-military nuclear technology. At least
      one other nuclear scientist, Mohammed Farooq, is
      accused of helping Khan in the scheme.

      Khan has been ordered to remain at home as
      investigators complete their work, officials said.
      Farooq, whose family maintains his innocence, is among
      five other current or former lab officials still being
      held at undisclosed locations.

      Musharraf is under heavy domestic pressure to go easy
      on Khan, who is considered a national hero for his
      pivotal role in developing the uranium-enrichment
      technology that allowed the country to achieve nuclear
      parity with arch rival India.

      At the same time, Musharraf is eager to remain on good
      terms with the United States and to demonstrate
      Pakistan's commitment to curbing the spread of nuclear
      weapons technology, in part by showing that he takes
      the allegations against Khan and other scientists

      Pakistan launched its investigation in November after
      the International Atomic Energy Agency turned up
      evidence that some of its scientists had helped Iran
      and Libya design centrifuges used to make enriched
      uranium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

      Among those present at Saturday's meeting was Lt. Gen.
      Ehsanul Haq, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services
      Intelligence Agency, who presented the case against
      Khan at the meeting and said firing him would "would
      go a long way in establishing" Pakistan's "credibility
      with the IAEA," according to a participant.

      The same official quoted Prime Minister Zafarullah
      Khan Jamali as telling the group, "We must tell the
      world that Pakistan at no cost would allow
      irresponsible scientists to run its nuclear program."

      'Public Disgrace'

      Khan has a history of strained relations with
      Musharraf, who in 2001 forced his retirement as
      director of the Khan Research Laboratories, the
      uranium-enrichment plant that Khan founded nearly
      three decades ago following his return to Pakistan
      from the Netherlands.

      His current job amounted to little more than a
      sinecure. "I swat flies and read newspapers," an
      associate recalled him saying about his duties several
      years ago.

      Still, as recently as Friday, even some of Musharraf's
      senior advisers were urging the president to avoid any
      action that smacked of "public disgrace," as one
      cabinet minister put it in an interview.

      "How can you blame a person who enjoyed explicit
      authority from the state to beg, borrow or steal for
      no less than 20 years to deliver his nation its
      nuclear bomb?" an army general said. "What harm has he
      caused Pakistan by extending the same knowledge to
      another Islamic country?"

      Pakistani officials also acknowledge that a public
      airing of the technology sales could prove
      embarrassing for the military, which has principal
      responsibility for the multitiered security system --
      overseen by two army brigadiers and a special
      detachment of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency
      -- that surrounds the top-secret Khan laboratory.

      Moreover, while the investigation has focused
      exclusively on transactions involving Iran and Libya,
      U.S. officials also suspect Pakistan of bartering
      uranium-enrichment secrets to North Korea in return
      for help with ballistic missiles. U.S. officials have
      said they believe that some of the dealings, in which
      Khan is said to have played a prominent role, occurred
      as recently as August 2002, almost three years after
      Musharraf seized power. Pakistani officials deny the

      According to investigators, Khan continues to maintain
      his innocence, but he has made no public comment on
      the allegations. A security officer who answered the
      phone at Khan's residence Saturday said the former lab
      director was not home and declined to take a message.
      Phone calls to his personal secretary went unanswered.

      An associate of Khan's, who spoke on condition of
      anonymity, said the scientist told him earlier this
      month that he and his wife had acquired much of their
      money from the sale of properties in the Netherlands
      that had been inherited from his mother-in-law several
      years ago.

      Khan's official biographer, Zahid Malik, said in an
      interview Thursday that Khan, with whom he spoke
      earlier this week, does not dispute that blueprints
      and technical specifications may have found their way
      from Pakistan to Iran and Libya. Khan acknowledges
      providing such material to Dubai-based middlemen, who
      needed the documents to shop for nuclear-related
      components in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain on
      Pakistan's behalf, Malik said.

      Khan now believes, Malik said, that "when those
      middlemen or manufacturers came to know of the nuclear
      ambitions of Iran and Libya, they approached the
      concerned authorities of those countries" and passed
      along the documents originally provided by Khan.

      A government statement said Khan was dismissed "in the
      background of the investigations into alleged acts of
      nuclear proliferation by a few individuals and to
      facilitate those investigations in a free and
      objective manner."

      A Flamboyant Career

      Even if Khan escapes prosecution, as many officials
      say they expect, the decision to dismiss him from his
      government post amounts to a rare public rebuke of one
      of Pakistan's most colorful and celebrated public

      Born in 1936 in pre-independence India, Khan studied
      in Germany and Belgium and then worked in the
      Netherlands for several years at Urenco, a uranium
      enrichment corporation, before returning home in 1974
      to found Pakistan's uranium enrichment facility at
      Kahuta, about 20 miles outside Islamabad, the capital.

      His efforts quickly earned him enormous power and
      prestige. A retired senior officer recalled that Khan
      used to travel to army headquarters in the city of
      Rawalpindi near here "in a motorcade escorted by
      troops from the Special Services Group," Pakistan's
      most elite commando unit. "There used to be decoy cars
      in his entourage, which was always bigger than the
      chief of the army."

      In 1983, a Dutch court convicted Khan in absentia of
      stealing designs for the centrifuges used in the
      Pakistani facility, a charge he denied. The conviction
      was later thrown out for technical reasons.

      After Pakistan detonated a nuclear device in 1998, and
      his stature assumed such mythic proportions that his
      picture was affixed to garbage trucks, Khan boasted
      openly of the black-market dealings that allowed him
      to circumvent Western restrictions on the export of
      dual-use technology he needed to equip his lab.

      "I got the material from third sources, using
      different routes," he told a Pakistani newspaper in
      2001. Western governments, he added, "were always
      watching over us, trying to dry up our resources and
      block our passage, but I always made sure we stayed a
      step ahead."

      But Pakistani intelligence officials now say that
      beginning about 1987, the same black-market contacts
      and shell companies provided opportunities for Khan
      and perhaps several others associated with his
      laboratory, known as KRL, to peddle their expertise to
      Iran and Libya.

      They came to that conclusion after IAEA inspectors
      toured Iranian nuclear facilities last fall, then
      passed along what they had learned to Pakistan.
      Quoting Iranian authorities, an IAEA official told the
      Pakistanis that Khan had arranged for the delivery to
      Iran of engineering drawings and a list of equipment
      suppliers through a Sri Lankan middleman operating out
      of Dubai, a Pakistani intelligence official said.

      "The money trail that originated from Tehran reached
      the bank account of this Sri Lankan citizen in Dubai,"
      said the official, adding that the Sri Lankan also
      acted as the middleman for a similar transaction
      involving Libya. Khan acknowledged to investigators
      that he had done business with the Sri Lankan, but
      only in the context of buying components for
      Pakistan's program, the official said.

      During the late 1980s and early 1990s, officials said,
      Khan made at least two trips to Iran, ostensibly for
      the purpose of sharing non-military nuclear technology
      under a secret 1987 agreement between Pakistani
      President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq and the Iranian

      Pakistani officials said much of the evidence against
      Khan was provided by Farooq, the director general of
      processing and engineering at the lab, who also stands
      accused of profiting from illicit transactions.
      "Farooq had the most specific information on the
      transfer of knowledge and technology to Libya and
      Iran," one official said. "He put Khan in a very tight

      Exotic Investments

      Pakistani officials say they believe that Khan grew
      rich from his black-market activities. He has divided
      his time between his large Mediterranean-style villa
      on the edge of the capital and an equally imposing
      residence -- complete with lighted brick driveway and
      dolphin-shaped fountain -- on the edge of Rawal Lake
      in Bani Gala.

      One of the Khans' more exotic investments,
      investigators say, was the 24-room Hotel Hendrina Khan
      in Timbuktu, which opened in March 2002 and was named
      after the scientist's wife. It is outfitted with
      carved-wood furniture that in 2000 was flown on a
      Pakistani army C-130 aircraft from Islamabad to
      Tripoli, Libya, from where it made its way to
      Timbuktu, investigators said.

      Abder Hamane Alphamaega, who identified himself as the
      manager and owner of the property, said by telephone
      from Timbuktu Saturday evening that he met Hendrina
      Khan in 1999 when she and several Pakistani visitors
      hired him as a tour guide. She subsequently helped him
      get medical treatment in Islamabad in 2000, he said,
      then gave him the money to build the hotel as a
      "gift." He declined to say how much he received. He
      said he had never heard of A.Q. Khan and that Hendrina
      Khan retains no stake in the hotel.

      Investigators say that Khan arranged for the load of
      furniture to be flown to Tripoli in the army plane
      that was kept available for his use. Farooq told
      investigators that he accompanied the load.

      New York Times
      February 2, 2004
      Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers


      ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 1 - The founder of
      Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan,
      has signed a detailed confession admitting that during
      the last 15 years he provided Iran, North Korea and
      Libya with the designs and technology to produce the
      fuel for nuclear weapons, according to a senior
      Pakistani official and three Pakistani journalists who
      attended a special government briefing here on Sunday

      In a two-and-a-half-hour presentation to 20 Pakistani
      journalists, a senior government official gave an
      exhaustive and startling account of how Dr. Khan, a
      national hero, spread secret technology to three
      countries that have been striving to produce their own
      nuclear arsenals. Two of them, Iran and North Korea,
      were among those designated by President Bush as part
      of an "axis of evil."

      If the Pakistani government account is correct, Dr.
      Khan's admission amounts to one of the most complex
      and successful efforts to evade international controls
      to stop nuclear proliferation.

      The account provided by Pakistan on Sunday night came
      after years in which the government strongly denied
      that it or scientists at the Khan Research
      Laboratories had given crucial technology to other

      Officials detailed how Dr. Khan had presided over a
      network that smuggled nuclear hardware on chartered
      planes, had shared secret designs for the centrifuges
      that produce the enriched uranium necessary to develop
      a nuclear weapon, and had given personal briefings to
      Iranian, Libyan and North Korean scientists in covert
      meetings abroad.

      Dr. Khan said he shared the technology because he
      thought the emergence of more nuclear states would
      ease Western attention on Pakistan, the senior
      official told journalists. He also said he thought it
      would help the Muslim cause.

      The Bush administration offered no public comment on
      the Pakistani announcement on Sunday. But in recent
      weeks, administration officials have said that they
      forced the government of President Pervez Musharraf to
      confront the evidence, after Iran and Libya made
      disclosures that showed their reliance on
      Pakistani-supplied technology.

      "This is the break we have been waiting for," a senior
      American official said. But the account provided by
      Pakistani officials carefully avoided pinning any
      blame on General Musharraf, the army or the Pakistani
      intelligence service, despite the fact that some of
      the material - especially what was sent to North Korea
      - appeared to have been transported on government
      cargo planes.

      Pakistani and American officials have said senior
      Pakistani Army officials would have known if nuclear
      hardware had been shipped out of a tightly guarded
      nuclear facility.

      The senior official told journalists that all nuclear
      transfers ceased after General Musharraf established a
      new National Command Authority to oversee the
      country's nuclear arsenal in early 2002. But according
      to American accounts, the nuclear transfers to Libya
      continued through last fall.

      The Khan laboratory has for years been the crown jewel
      of the Pakistani nuclear program, and it received the
      highest-level support after Dr. Khan stole the basic
      technology for uranium enrichment from a European
      consortium, Urenco, in the late 1970's.

      Dr. Khan's house has been surrounded by Pakistani
      security officials for several weeks, and he could not
      be reached for comment on Sunday. A spokesman for the
      families of Dr. Khan and six detained officials who
      the government says aided him said they would respond
      to the government allegations on Monday.

      It was unclear whether Dr. Khan would be arrested, or
      whether General Musharraf's government would be
      further shaken by his decision to take on a man
      revered as the creator of the first Islamic bomb.

      At the briefing on Sunday night, the Pakistani
      official insisted that the country's military and
      intelligence officials had been unaware of Dr. Khan's
      activities during the past decade, despite the huge
      houses and lavish life he maintained on a relatively
      modest government stipend.

      "There were intelligence lapses on our part, and we
      admit to them," the official said, according to the
      journalists who attended the meeting. "We should not
      have allowed this loose administrative and security
      system to have prevailed."

      There was no way to independently verify the senior
      official's account, though senior American officials
      said parts of it seemed in accord with intelligence
      they had gathered and provided to Pakistan.

      The news of the confession came a day after Pakistan's
      government removed Dr. Khan from a senior government
      post. The government has been gradually paving the way
      for the announcement since December, when it first
      admitted that its scientists might have operated "for
      personal profit."

      Until that time, accounts of secrets given up by the
      Khan laboratory were met by a string of denials. But
      after receiving detailed evidence last year from the
      International Atomic Energy Agency and the United
      States, Pakistan began an investigation into possible
      nuclear transfers to Iran and Libya in November.

      The investigation has gained speed ever since, and
      General Musharraf personally questioned Dr. Khan,
      American officials say.

      The senior Pakistani official said Dr. Khan
      transferred nuclear weapons-related designs, drawings
      and components to Iran between 1989 and 1991,
      according to the three journalists. He transferred
      nuclear technology to North Korea and Libya between
      1991 and 1997, they said, though American officials
      believe that the transfers to Libya continued until
      just four months ago.

      Dr. Khan also transferred additional technology to
      North Korea until 2000, the Pakistanis said. That is
      particularly significant because North Korea has
      denied, as recently as last month, that it has a
      secret uranium enrichment project under way, in
      addition to the plutonium project at Yongbyon that the
      C.I.A. believes has already produced several weapons.

      Details from Dr. Khan's confession, if made available
      from the United States, could have a major effect on
      the negotiations to disarm North Korea, American
      officials said.

      The Pakistani official who briefed reporters said Dr.
      Khan had met with Libyan nuclear scientists in
      Casablanca, Morocco, and in Istanbul; American
      officials were apparently unaware of the Istanbul
      meeting. He also met Iranian scientists in Karachi,
      Pakistan, and scientists in Malaysia, the journalists

      Dr. Khan made direct shipments of nuclear hardware
      through Dubai, in the Persian Gulf, and chartered
      flights to North Korea that may have included the
      shipments on government planes. American intelligence
      officials believe that he visited North Korea more
      than a dozen times.

      He also tried to ship nuclear hardware by land from
      Pakistan to Iran with the aid of a Karachi
      businessman, the officials said.

      According to the Pakistani account, centrifuges came
      from a factory in Malaysia that had been built by a
      Sri Lankan identified as "Tahir," who was one of
      several middlemen Dr. Khan used to spread the

      The Pakistani official said, and American officials
      confirmed, that Tahir was in government custody in
      Malaysia. Centrifuge components made in Malaysia were
      intercepted en route to Libya in October, American
      officials said.

      The other middlemen were three Germans identified by
      the senior official only by their last names -
      "Brummer," "Heinz," and "Liech" - the journalists
      said. A Dutch citizen identified by Pakistani
      officials as "Hanks" was also described as a
      middleman, though American intelligence officials
      believe that Hank is his first name. The man is
      believed to have some connection to Urenco, the
      European conglomerate where Dr. Khan once worked. Dr.
      Khan was convicted in absentia for stealing technology
      there, though the conviction was overturned on a

      Dr. Khan smuggled out of Pakistan a mix of new and
      untested centrifuges and centrifuge parts, the senior
      official said. Some of the machines and components
      were defective, by his account.

      The Pakistani officials charged Sunday night that
      after their government opened an inquiry into possible
      nuclear transfers in November, Dr. Khan wrote to
      Iranian officials and urged them to destroy some of
      their facilities and to tell officials that the
      Pakistanis who aided them had died. He also threatened
      to kill one of his subordinates in 2001 if he told
      anyone of the transfer, they said.

      The senior government official told journalists that
      the Pakistani government first heard rumors that
      nuclear technology was leaving the country for North
      Korea in 2000. The Pakistani Inter-Services
      Intelligence agency conducted a raid on a plane
      chartered by Dr. Khan that was bound for North Korea,
      but found nothing on board.

      Two years later, in the fall of 2002, an American
      delegation to North Korea led by James A. Kelly, the
      assistant secretary of state for East Asian and
      Pacific affairs, confronted the North with
      intelligence that the country had a secret uranium
      enrichment facility. He based his charges on evidence
      first collected by South Korean intelligence agencies.
      According to the American account, North Korea
      admitted to having such a project, though it later
      insisted that it had been misunderstood, and had no
      such program.

      American officials relayed the information to
      Pakistan, urging action. But when the news became
      public, Pakistan denied that its scientists had any
      role. On Sunday, however, the senior Pakistani
      official acknowledged that the government had found
      documents at the Khan Research Laboratories that
      showed equipment had been shipped out of the facility.

      In February 2003, American officials showed Pakistani
      officials satellite images of Iran's large centrifuge
      complex, whose existence was disclosed by Iranian
      dissidents. American officials said the scale and
      design of the project suggested that the Iranians were
      getting aid from an advanced program like Pakistan's -
      a charge that was confirmed when inspectors from the
      International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations
      nuclear regulatory body, toured the facilities.

      The inspectors discovered that some equipment had been
      contaminated with weapons-grade uranium, though it was
      unclear whether Iran had produced that material, or
      the equipment had been previously contaminated. The
      senior official here told journalists that the high
      enrichment level indicated that the equipment had come
      from Pakistan, the journalists said.

      Iranian officials also informed Atomic Energy Agency
      officials that three Germans and two South Asians had
      aided their program, prompting Pakistan to open its
      inquiry in November. In mid-January, Libya informed
      Pakistani officials that they too had received nuclear
      aid from Pakistanis.

      The senior official said Dr. Muhammad Farooq, the head
      of overseas procurement, had played a critical role in
      aiding Dr. Khan. He worked closely with the Sri Lankan
      middleman, the official said. The Sri Lankan
      established the factory in Malaysia that built
      components based on Pakistani designs, the official
      said. Dr. Farooq also traveled with Dr. Khan to the
      meetings with Libyan officials in Istanbul and
      Casablanca and recorded some of the conversations.

      The senior official told journalists that General
      Musharraf would address the nation about the results
      of the inquiry, and any disciplinary action, shortly
      after a series of national holidays, which end on

      David Rohde reported from Islamabad for this article
      and David E. Sanger from Washington.

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