AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part X : India & Israel plan an attack on Kahuta and Pakistan becomes nuclear capable

In June 1980 the BBC broadcast a documentary, “Project 706—The Islamic Bomb,” the fullest investigation to date into Khan’s illicit uranium enrichment program.18 Days later it was shown in Holland, where Henny happened to be staying with her parents on an annual pilgrimage to renew her Dutch visa. Her recollection of a meeting she had with Dutch immigration officials the following day revealed how the authorities there were oblivious to the growing Khan scandal. “The clerk, after finding out that I came from Pakistan, started discussing the [television] program. He inquired if I knew this Dr. Khan. And before I could answer, he added that Dr. Khan must have earned millions through this game. With difficulty I managed to keep quiet and never gave the impression that I was ‘that’ Mrs. Khan. At that moment I wished I could tell him that, like any other Pakistani senior government official, my husband was earning only 3750 rupees [$400] a month.” Khan was a wanted man in Holland and his wife should have been a prime asset, if not a lure to force him to return to The Hague. Instead, her passport was stamped and she got back on the plane to Islamabad.

Alexander Haig had singled out Pakistan as the means by which the US could contain the Soviet threat, with Afghanistan as the theater in which to do it. But the idea was not his own. It came from the US ambassador in Islamabad, Arthur Hummel, who suggested the US offer a dramatic increase in aid. Potentially, it was a golden opportunity. Pakistan was desperate to act against Soviet aggression and the US had a chance to bleed the Soviets without putting troops on the ground. Here was a war the US could win. The only sticking point was Pakistan’s nuclear program. The White House came up with an argument. The US would lavish aid on Pakistan and in return a secure Islamic Republic would be less inclined to build a doomsday device. The theory was let loose on Capitol Hill.

In Pakistan, Zia did what he could to help. A frank briefing on the state of the secretive Pakistan nuclear project from Dr. Ishrat Usmani, the former head of PAEC, found its way into an influential European nuclear publication. He revealed that, contrary to public fears, his country “faced severe challenges” in completing the Kahuta program. Usmani had gone on to work at the United Nations in New York and had become a trusted face in the West. But although Usmani knew that in February 1979 Khan had succeeded in building several operational centrifuge cascades at Sihala, he told the reporter from Nucleonics Week that Pakistan faced severe technical challenges and was unlikely ever to be capable of producing even the crudest of nuclear devices.

A senior official at the Department of State called Senator Charles Percy (Republican, Illinois), chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, which would have to vet aid to Pakistan. Anticipating strong opposition, Percy was advised to say that Pakistan “faced an immediate and growing threat from the Soviets in Afghanistan” and its survival hinged on the Afghan freedom fighters. A talking-points pack recommended that if the nuclear issue were to be raised he should acknowledge the Islamic Republic was “making a determined effort to acquire nuclear explosives” and that the punitive measures taken in the past had achieved nothing. Sanctions were a failure. The way to gain assurance that A. Q. Khan would roll back the nuclear program was to give Islamabad jets and money. The twisted logic of granting Pakistan security to buy off its nuclear program was getting some usage.In eighteen months, the Pakistan nuclear program had gone from within a wing tip of being atomized by US or even Israeli bombers, to a low-level risk with little chance of succeeding, pushed to the back of US priorities.

Early in the morning of 1 May 1981, A. Q. Khan was woken by an urgent and unexpected phone call. Several weeks earlier he had sent word to General Zia that he had successfully enriched a small sample of uranium to weapons-grade strength, a colossal breakthrough on the path to manufacturing a nuclear bomb. Using European blueprints, he had modified URENCO’s energy-supplying technology for use in a weapons program. Now Zia had decided to view the progress at Kahuta for himself, with an unscheduled visit that morning. Khan was thrown into a panic. He immediately called Brigadier Sajawal, told him to get into his dress uniform and join him in the staff car in half an hour.1 Dr. Shafiq, then a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, tagged along. “When he arrived at Kahuta, Zia was shocked,” he recalled. “He was expecting a school chemistry lab and here was a plant filled with fully functioning Western-style laboratories, cascades of gleaming centrifuges humming away in glass chambers all being monitored by scientists in pristine white coats. Nothing like this had ever been done in Pakistan before. I remember the look on his face. He was like, ‘This is an empire.’ He was overwhelmed.” Khan recalled the visit as a great morale booster for him and his colleagues. “During his flying visit to our laboratories Zia renamed our organization from ‘Engineering Research Laboratories’ to ‘Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories,’

Back in 1979, the Israelis, according to a senior intelligence source in Israel, had been shown a classified US memo by their counterparts in RAW, the Indian foreign intelligence agency. Intercepted on its way from the US embassy in New Delhi to the secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, it confirmed that the US privately believed Pakistan would be able to explode a bomb within “two or three years”—most likely by 1981.So shocked had the Israelis been by the massive advances made by Khan that they had begun planning a pre-emptive strike on Kahuta, a plan that had only been put on ice due to US pressure. Now both Israel and India picked up more worrying indicators, including signs that test tunnels were being dug in Pakistan’s Ras Koh mountains.

So certain were the Indians of Pakistan’s intent that Lieutenant General Krishnaswami Sundarji, a future Indian vice chief of army staff, took the unprecedented step of publishing a war-gaming manual on the basis that Pakistan would imminently have a deployable bomb. Israel was less cerebral in its response. On 7 June 1981, deploying US-supplied bombers, armed with US-manufactured munitions, targeting with satellite overheads supplied by the US intelligence community, Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear program, striking out its reactor in Osirak, sending a clear message that even if the US was willing to turn a blind eye to the activities of unauthorized nuclear powers, the Israelis were not. Jerusalem would not stand by and allow realpolitik to arm Pakistan either, and a highly secretive bombing campaign orchestrated by the Mossad, Israel’s external security agency, which had begun earlier in the year and targeted A. Q. Khan’s European suppliers, was escalated.

The first victim had been Heinz Mebus, Khan’s old friend from West Berlin Technische Universität, who, along with Albrecht Migule, had helped build Pakistan’s fluoride and uranium conversion plants in 1979. A letter bomb exploded inside Mebus’s home in Erlangen, West Germany. Mebus was out at work, but his dog died in the attack. European criminal investigators soon linked the bombing to another that had occurred in Berne, Switzerland, on 20 February, outside the home of Eduard German, managing director of CORA Engineering, the company that had exported the gasification and solidification unit to Pakistan in 1979. The company had been preparing to send another rig to Pakistan when the bomb went off. The incident was followed by an anonymous caller demanding that CORA stop trading with Pakistan. Rudolf Walti, a CORA official, recalled that after his company was threatened again two months later it ended its association with Pakistan, having discovered that the US knew everything. However, this information had been kept highly classified, lest it undermine the aid train that had started to leave for Pakistan.

Police in Berne could find no trace of any of the attackers, only references to a gang that called itself the Group for Non-Proliferation in South Asia. However, they soon discovered that similar attacks against Khan’s European suppliers had been carried out by other equally untraceable groups, including one called the Committee to Safe guard the Islamic Revolution and another known as the League for Protecting the Sub-Continent, which had exposed secret contracts between Khan and a French nuclear supplier.

Pooling resources through Interpol, the international police organization, the Swiss detectives learned of an Italian company trading with Khan that had also been warned off. Emanuele Poncini, deputy director of Alcom Engineering, which was supplying metal components to Pakistan, confirmed that his company had received a threatening letter and had backed away from its deal. Then, on 18 May 1981, another bomb exploded, this one planted in the southern German town of Markdorf outside a company that had been supplying Pakistan since 1976. That November, Albrecht Migule was also targeted when a letter bomb was delivered to his house in Freiberg, West Germany. The Swiss police investigations floundered, although in private the detectives believed a sophisticated, state-backed group was behind the attacks, with Mossad the most likely candidate.Peter Griffin recalled having the frighteners put on him, too, when he went to Bonn to pick up a payment from Ikram ul-Haq, A. Q. Khan’s agent there. “I was in a bar when a stranger sat down next to me. ‘You’re Peter Griffin,’ he said. ‘We don’t like what you’re doing, so stop it.’ ” Griffin started recording all his business dealings and movements in a diary, put all his company records into a bank vault, and advised his wife that if anything untoward should happen to him she should give everything to their son Paul.

The CIA had picked up on Zia’s instructions to Khan in May 1981 to get ready for a cold test. Pakistan had moved on to the next stage. Officially, Pakistan’s warhead design was the responsibility of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, a founding member of PAEC, who had attended the 1972 Multan conference and ran PAEC’s Directorate of Technical Development (DTD), one of the most secretive organizations in the labyrinth of Pakistan’s nuclear industry. At a secret laboratory, the location of which was never disclosed, Mubarakmand worked with a team of scientists and engineers who had formerly been employed by the Pakistan army’s ordnance complex at Wah, north of Islamabad. They had been shifted from conventional to nuclear weapons in March 1974 but had yet to perfect their warhead design. In 1981, Zia decided to increase the pace by authorizing Khan to establish a competing weapons team at Kahuta

Everything was building up for a cold test, and in March 1983, shortly after Reagan had hailed US efforts at “dissuading [Pakistan] from continuing its nuclear explosives program,” work began in tunnels bored into the Kirana Hills near Sargodha, the Pakistan air force’s largest base and its central ammunition depot. The tests were to be conducted by PAEC, after Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s team at the Directorate of Technical Development finally produced a viable bomb design with input from Khan’s teams at Kahuta. Mubarakmand, who oversaw the preparations, recalled how they first had to clear the site of wild boars, one of which had previously written off a jet as it landed by charging into its undercarriage. He then booted up the US- and German-manufactured supercomputers with which his scientists would monitor the triggering of a nuclear bomb that had had its fissile core removed.

An armed escort arrived with the weapon. “The bomb was assembled in the tunnel. The telemetry was set up, checked and rechecked. Vans outside the test site would monitor the event from every angle.” The first test was designed to monitor the trigger mechanism and to see if it would generate sufficient neutrons to start a chain reaction. “The button was pushed and nothing happened,” the report stated. Fearing the device had failed, a team entered the tunnel and, running every wire through their fingers, they found that two connections had come adrift. After conducting some running repairs the test went off successfully. Now Pakistan’s dignitaries were invited to the site. A few days later, General K. M. Arif arrived, alongside Munir Ahmed Khan, chairman of PAEC, and Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the finance minister. “Only a few people in Pakistan knew. It was a red-letter day,” recalled Arif. “I can tell you we were all very excited. The tests went perfectly. Pakistan to all intents and purposes now had its bomb. The work of our scientists was nothing short of heroic. From now on there were twenty-four more cold tests to straighten out the triggering mechanism until we got the hang of it exactly.”

In Pakistan, Khan was unconcerned about White House sensitivities. His Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) was filled with droves of conspicuous foreign visitors. “The Chinese were working on triggering mechanisms, the centrifuges, vacuum systems. They brought rocket propellant and super-hard metals like maraging steel,” recalled Dr. Shafiq, who was then training to be a medical doctor and frequently visited the plant to see his father, Brigadier Sajawal. “They brought in fissile material and Khan gave them the data on enrichment and metallurgy. They helped Pakistan import and experiment with high explosives and Khan gave them his work on the centrifuge rotors.” To make them feel welcome the main guest house was hung with lanterns and done up as a Chinese hall.

The collaboration grew so immense that the Chinese requested Pakistan to change the old-fashioned way in which some deals were financed. Dr. Shafiq recalled his father and Khan discussing China’s demands. “There would be no more suitcases full of cash delivered by high-ranking Pakistan army officers or ISI agents. China wanted a trustworthy and transparent line of credit. Dr. Khan had to get things regularized and get the government to deposit money into an account in one of its chosen banks, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International [BCCI], the Islamic Development Bank or the National Bank of Pakistan.” These bank-to-bank transfers would attract the attention of Western intelligence, which began investigating Khan’s finances in 1982, but they would not report back until much later and those involved in the investigations complained at the time of being largely ignored

A committee of soldiers and intelligence people had first come together to discuss what became known as “the Osirak contingency” in 1981, after Lieutenant General Krishnaswami Sundarji had published his Pakistan war-gaming manual. Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi had consented and placed Air Marshal Dilbagh Singh, chief of air staff, in charge of the operation. He had ordered Indian Air Force Jaguar squadrons to practice low-level flying, simulating runs with 2,000-lb bombs.

In February 1983, with the strike plan at an advanced stage, Indian military officials had travelled secretly to Israel, which had a common interest in eliminating Khan, to buy electronic warfare equipment to neutralize Kahuta’s air defenses.24 On 25 February 1983, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi had accused Pakistan of “covertly attempting to make nuclear weapons,” and three days later, Raja Ramanna, director of India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Center, had revealed that India, too, was developing a uranium enrichment facility. Suspecting something was brewing, the ISI sent a message to their Indian intelligence counterparts in RAW that autumn, and as a result Munir Ahmed Khan of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission met Dr. Ramanna at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna. He warned Ramanna that if India were to strike at Kahuta, Pakistan would hit India’s nuclear facilities at Trombay. It lay downwind from the teeming Indian city of Mumbai and an attack would result in the release of “massive amounts of radiation to a large populated area, causing a disaster.”

New Delhi paused. Israel stepped in, suggesting that it carry out the raid, using India’s airbase at Jamnagar to launch Israeli air force jets and a second base in northern India to refuel. A senior Israeli analyst close to the operation recalled that the plan was to enter Pakistan beneath the radar, with jets tracking the line of the Himalayas through Kashmir. As Reagan’s staff finalized arrangements for the president’s visit to China in March 1984, prime minister Indira Gandhi signed off the Israeli-led operation, bringing India, Pakistan and Israel to within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear conflagration. It was at this point that the CIA tipped off President Zia, hoping the chain reaction would defuse the situation. And after Khan’s outbursts in the Pakistani newspapers, India and Israel had backed off.

President Zia soon had a more pressing letter on his desk. Dated 10 December 1984, it was written by A. Q. Khan and required careful consideration. Everything was in place at Kahuta, Khan wrote, to detonate a real nuclear bomb—a hot test.61That in the closing months of 1984 Pakistan was on the brink of unveiling in public its nuclear program was verified by a second source, the Pakistani finance minister, Ghulam Ishaq Khan. “The nation owes a debt of gratitude to its scientists … using weapons-grade enriched uranium, a product of KRL, they had developed by 1984 a nuclear explosive device which could be detonated at short notice,” he wrote in a private letter sent to staff at Kahuta.

General Arif recalled that Zia was thrilled, but in two minds. He was eager to witness Pakistan’s nuclear ascendancy, but equally wary of losing the billions of dollars coming from the US. “Khan was told to wait. He was not used to being refused. He was devastated.” According to Zia’s chief of staff, something other than US hard cash had led to Zia calling off the hot test: the imminent arrival of a US delegation that was visiting Islamabad to talk about the nuclear program and witness how the covert war over the border was being prosecuted.63 “Pakistan could not detonate a bomb while the Americans were here. With the Soviets still in Afghanistan we needed them to go back home with a vision that we were winning that war with US support. We could afford to wait,” Arif said.

Gordon Corera, “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network”

AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part IX : Kahuta explodes on world stage, China becomes our friend and US tries to push us back

On 4 April 1978, Khan revealed to Henny over dinner that he had something extraordinary to share with her. A world-class secret in fact. He had fed a sample of UF6 through his P-1 centrifuge and produced enriched uranium. “I can say with complete confidence that I was among the very first who knew that Pakistan had broken the monopoly of the Western world,” Henny remembered.The following day, Khan sent an official memo to his patrons, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, by now the finance minister, and Agha Shahi, the foreign minister.4 But by the time they received this news, Zia had usurped their authority over the nuclear program, appointing a general to run it.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had always been wary of the military getting their hands on the nuclear trigger. No military officers were invited to the Multan conference of 1972, and the military’s only connection to Kahuta was organizing its building and security while the ISI prowled Europe for components. But within weeks of Bhutto’s conviction, Zia disbanded the civilian committee, and placed General Khalid Mahmud Arif, his chief of staff, in charge. Everything that Khan would do from now on came under the military’s purview.

[trying to bring expatriate trained pakistanis back home] Again, Khan asked Aziz to come back to Pakistan, but Aziz could not be prised from Montreal, and so many others proved intransigent that Khan asked General Zia to sanction a series of advertisements to lure them back. Carried in newspapers around the world, they promised large salaries and new homes in Islamabad. Applicants were told to contact their local Pakistan embassy and say they were applying for work at the Institute of Industrial Automation (IIA) in Islamabad, the same address used by Khan for component deliveries. “Mention that this is a government department and this is to encourage the industrial progress,” Khan advised prospective employees.16 In his letters to Aziz he asked him to recommend other expatriate Pakistanis, and Aziz duly sent back lists of delegates from conferences he had attended in the US and Canada. Peter Griffin recalled Khan’s staffing crisis. “He could only ever offer a meager government salary, but he’d tempt people by saying we’ll build you a house that will be yours forever, a pension and travel all paid. Khan fought a continual battle against mediocrity, even among his most senior aides.”

But Khan would soon face a more pressing problem. On 8 October 1978 he wrote to Aziz: “Perhaps you must have read in some newspapers that the English government is objecting about the inverters. Work is progressing but the frustration is increasing. It is just like a man who has waited 30 years but cannot wait for a few hours after the marriage ceremony.” The British government had finally tripped over Khan’s network, but not through diligence. It was envy that exposed the Pakistan connection. Having sent a shipment of twenty inverters to Pakistan, Ernst Piffl had lost the contract after A. Q. Khan suspected he was being cheated on the price. The contract went to Peter Griffin in Swansea, and Piffl blew the whistle, tipping off Frank Allaun, Labor MP for Salford East in northwest England, claiming that the components were being exported to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons industry. When Allaun, who was also a renowned peace campaigner, began asking questions in the House of Commons in July 1978, Tony Benn, the minister for energy, announced an inquiry. He froze all further shipments to Pakistan, trapping Khan’s inverters in the UK.

The House of Commons inquiry found that the previous December, Piffl had ordered twenty inverters from Emerson Industrial Controls which had been shipped from its factory in Swindon to the Special Works Organization in Rawalpindi. A former former Emerson engineer told the inquiry that everyone at the Swindon plant had suspected the inverters were for uranium enrichment but nobody had bothered to stop the shipment as “they were convinced that the Pakistanis would never know how to operate such sophisticated equipment, and that the inverters would all sit in their packing cases until they rusted away.” Only after the first boxes reached Kahuta in August 1978 and Khan’s technicians sent a telex requesting sophisticated modifications did Emerson realize it had underestimated its customers.

The export control amendments would make it far harder for anyone to trade with Khan from the UK. Peter Griffin, who had made inquiries with Emerson about two more shipments of inverters after he won the contract off Piffl, was refused an export license under the new legislation. “It was now impossible to do business without being hassled,” Griffin recalled. “I would get my usual telex from Khan and the next day a telex from UK Customs with lists of all the new things going onto the export control list, which coincidentally were all the things Khan had just asked for. Customs started causing me endless headaches. I told the tax and customs people that I was never curious and never asked questions. I did everything within export control legislation. I was a businessman. I never sold a bullet, never sold anything that would kill anyone. When the Brits tried to appeal to my better nature and said, ‘This is nuclear stuff that you’re contributing to,’ I said, ‘As far as I am concerned A. Q. Khan’s work is for peaceful purposes only and I believe that all countries have an unalienable right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. I’ll stop just as soon as you stop selling small arms, handcuffs and torture equipment to African countries.’ ” From now on this would be Griffin’s justification for all the work he would do for Khan.

Things were so hot in Britain that Griffin and Abdus Salam decided to move, not just out of their old neighborhoods, but out of Europe. “Salam said to me, let’s go to Dubai, a free-trade zone,” remembered Griffin. “UK exports to Dubai were not so heavily watched and from there could go anywhere. Salam said he would do it only if he could go to Dubai first, leaving me in the UK to arrange stuff.”

Later Khan revealed another sensational breakthrough: he was attempting to link several centrifuges together for the first time, creating a mini-cascade, a gateway to increasing the enrichment of uranium towards weapons grade. Work on the big plant was also speeding up, with the main laboratory buildings, centrifuge hall B-1 and administration block almost finished. “We hope by April many groups [of centrifuges] would be transferred there,” he wrote, if he could get more staff. “It is the bad luck of this country that people do not want to stay here. When one leaves he does not want to come back.”

By the end of March, his centrifuge cascades up and running, Khan was desperate for a regular supply of UF6. Referring to the German uranium conversion plant that would guarantee this, but still had not arrived, Khan wrote, using his unsubtle “Operation Butter Factory” code: “By the end of the year the factory should start working, and should start providing ‘cake and bread.’ Here there is a shortage of ‘food’ and we need these things very badly.” On 28 March 1979, Khan enjoyed the last day of his life that he would spend in relative obscurity. That night Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), a West German television channel, broadcast a documentary unmasking Abdul Qadeer Khan as the head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, which was being built using centrifuge blueprints stolen from a Dutch plant at Almelo. The story exploded in Europe and North America, forcing the Dutch government to launch an investigation.

The BVD informed ministers that Khan had been stealing data for months before he left Holland in December 1975 and had probably obtained all the designs for both the CNOR and the G-2 centrifuges. This inquiry also revealed one more disaster, which until then had not been known by anyone outside the consortium: that URENCO scientists had been working on a successor to the sophisticated G-2, a super-centrifuge known as the 4-M, and that its blueprint was also likely to be in Pakistan.

Britain and Germany, Holland’s partners in the URENCO consortium, were livid. Both wanted to know why The Hague had not alerted them in 1975 when suspicions had first been raised by Frits Veerman, or in 1976 when Khan had written to FDO staff for technical information, or in 1977 when FDO contractors in Holland were known to have sold Khan components for the discontinued CNOR. Israel, too, demanded answers.

In Islamabad the furor had done little to slow down Kahuta’s progress. In late March 1979, Khan was called to brief Zia and brought with him a ten-page letter in which he argued that Zia should commute Bhutto’s death sentence. He had stayed up half the previous night preparing it.

China

The man who had negotiated Pakistan’s special relationship with China was diplomat Agha Shahi. He confirmed that Saxena’s deduction was correct: “1965 was critical for us,” he recalled. “We made a pact with Beijing that ushered in decades of assistance we could not have got elsewhere.” In 1971, Pakistan and China became even closer when Shahi led calls for the People’s Republic to win a seat at the UN Security Council, where Chiang Kai-shek was the US-backed sitting representative of the Chinese people even though he had been exiled to Taiwan. Shahi, then Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, said: “We formed a steering committee of thirteen countries. On the eve of the debate George H. W. Bush, who was US ambassador to the UN, came to me and said, ‘Agha, don’t kick out Chiang Kai-shek.’ I sent a cable to our ambassador in Beijing, saying, ‘Look, it’s touch and go, some people are recognizing the People’s Republic, some are sticking with Taiwan. Tell the Beijing delegates to step up the diplomatic lobby.’ ” The following day Shahi’s side won the vote and the People’s Republic of China joined the UN for the first time.

General K. M. Arif also recalled the special relationship.47 “Outwardly we are very different. They are a godless society with no free market or elections. But I cannot think of a single incident over the last fifty years where China interfered in the internal politics of Pakistan or vice versa. China gave freely with no strings. No money was paid for this assistance until President Zia went to China in 1977 and said, ‘We are grateful but we should be charged.’ China said, ‘No, Mr. President, we cannot forget the assistance you gave us when we were out of the UN. We were alone and you helped us.’ ”

British and American suppliers had cancelled contracts and the US Congress had reimposed sanctions on Pakistan two days after Bhutto was hanged, finally triggering the Symington amendment which barred aid to countries illicitly enriching uranium. “We are sorry because we needed only six more months,” wrote Khan, feeling the pinch.

But Khan had a plan B. Sensing a time when foreign parts would dry up altogether, he had been ingenious, fitting out machine shops at Kahuta to reverse-engineer centrifuge components based on the ones he had already bought in Europe, using design molds provided by his European contractors. Although China could help with raw materials, bomb and missile designs, its uranium enrichment program was based on diffusion, completely different from centrifuge technology, in which it had no expertise. Khan was already on the road to self-sufficiency with a state-of-the-art centrifuge production line and looking forward to the time when Pakistan could even become a supplier. “Afterwards we will sell these things to [North America] and will also obtain your services and will earn the foreign exchange because our price will be half the price from your side,” he wrote to Aziz.

Khan had done it so quickly that everyone was trying to catch up,” remembered Gallucci. “I first heard of Pakistan enrichment in January 1978 when I became a division chief at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. By the time I moved down the corridor to policy planning the following year, Khan was virtually self-sufficient.”

Gallucci was asked to put together a color-coded diagram showing what a Pakistani centrifuge looked like and where each part had come from. “The levels of collusion and professed ignorance among European companies was staggering. Some even had staff based at Kahuta.” Even while the Dutch inter-ministerial inquiry had been under way, the Pakistanis had continued placing orders for Dutch components, including steel tubing from Van Doorne Transmissie, which attempted to export the shipment in July 1979.

Within weeks, Kahuta was front-page news anyway, after two Western diplomats were beaten up for straying too close to the enrichment plant. Pol le Gourrierec, the French ambassador, and Jean Forlot, his first secretary, had decided to follow Gallucci’s lead and take a look for themselves. This time the Pakistani security guards had not reacted so politely. For twenty-four hours General Zia said nothing, before contacting the French government and wryly advising them that “the incident might not have taken place had the ambassador been flying the French flag from the bonnet of the car.” Exasperated, the French responded pettily by refusing to invite Zia to a forthcoming Bastille Day celebration, and as a sign of solidarity the Yugoslav ambassador protested “by taking his official car—flying the flag—up the Kahuta road and driving extremely slowly past the wall protecting the large construction site.” The score-settling theatricals belied the scale of the unfolding crisis.

All imports now ceased. “They are even stopping nails and screws,” wrote a frustrated Khan to Aziz. But thanks to Khan’s ingenuity, it did not matter much as “we are making the inverters and transformers ourselves.” Having been identified as the ringmaster in Pakistan’s nuclear operation, Khan also resumed his habit of writing angry letters to European newspapers and magazines. “I want to question the bloody holier-than-thou attitudes of the Americans and the British,” he railed in one. “These bastards are God-appointed guardians of the world to stockpile hundreds of thousands of nuclear warheads and have the God-given authority of carrying out explosions every month. But if we start a modest program, we are the Satans, the devils.”

Although no decision was taken, when the New York Times quoted a White House official as saying that sabotage or a commando raid were being considered as options to prevent Pakistan from exploding a bomb, Pakistan air force MiG-19 and Mirage fighters were scrambled over Islamabad, while Kahuta was ringed with French-supplied Crotale missiles and anti-aircraft guns. Days later, on 14 August, Aziz wrote to Khan from Montreal to report another debacle. Pakistani scientists living in the US and Canada had been accused of supplying materials to Khan and were under investigation.

US’s diplomatic offensive

In October 1979, Gerard Smith called for one last diplomatic offensive. Pakistan’s foreign minister, Agha Shahi, and General K. M. Arif had been invited to Washington and Smith proposed to sandbag them. Agha Shahi was expecting a warm welcome, convinced that the Afghan coup and the fall of the shah had increased Pakistan’s leverage. But as soon as he and Arif arrived, he realized that all the Americans wanted to talk about was Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Shahi met first with President Carter and then with Carter’s hard-nosed national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. “I said to him, you are so against proliferation and India has blown up the bomb, so why not give a guarantee to non-nuclear states that they would be subject to a Security Council nuclear umbrella?” Shahi recalled. It was the same request Kissinger had refused point-blank in 1974, and Shahi fared no better. “So, then we had the big meeting,” Shahi said. “On one side of the table there was me, General Arif, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, our Washington ambassador, and General Jilani, our secretary general for defense. On the US side was Cyrus Vance, the secretary of state, Warren Christopher, his deputy, and more than ten CIA people. I turned to Yaqub Khan and said, ‘They must think we are the Soviet Union.’ ”

Christopher did most of the talking, Shahi recalled. “He told me he wanted Pakistan to sign the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]. I said we would sign gladly if India signed. He said, ‘You must sign anyway.’ I said, ‘No. India poses a nuclear and conventional threat to us.’ Christopher said, ‘We want you to give a commitment that you will not transfer this technology to another country.’ I said, ‘We can give this guarantee.’ He said, ‘You must commit not to carry out a nuclear explosion.’ I said, ‘To be frank we have not reached that state of capability but if and when we do, we will consider the pros and cons.’ ”

Cyrus Vance stood and led Shahi into a side room, where he was introduced to Gerard Smith. “I was totally shocked. He was the most formidable US negotiator. Smith said to me, ‘You think you are improving your security but you have no idea how far ahead the Indians are. They can utterly destroy you. Do you know you are entering the valley of death?’ I was taken aback. I said, ‘Mr. Smith, I am at a great disadvantage talking to you, as you are the foremost expert on nuclear weapons. But it seems to me you don’t have to be a nuclear weapons expert to understand the strategic importance of having one. The value lies in its possession, sir, and not in its use.’ ” A terrible silence descended upon the room.

Gordon Corera, “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network”

AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part VIII : Kahuta Nuclear Plant aka Butter Factory aka Project 706

On 31 July 1976 they gave A. Q. Khan the authorization to construct his own enrichment facility, the Engineering Research Laboratories. They also gave it a codename: Project 706.

Khan set himself a seven-year deadline to build a bomb. To meet it, he sought out the brightest technicians, physicists and engineers in Pakistan and ripped apart the scientific establishment to get them, offering unheard-of salaries, perks, pensions and government bungalows. “Some of the heads of the organizations made such a hue and cry [about losing their employees] that it seemed as if the heavens would fall in,” he wrote. Among those he employed were Dr. Farooq Hashmi, a metallurgist trained at Southampton University, who became his deputy director, Dr. Alam, a British-educated computer programmer and mathematician, and Brigadier General Anis Ali Syed, on secondment from the Pakistan army, who became the head of the Special Works Organization, a military unit created to procure equipment for Project 706. Khan often used his hotline to the prime minister to ensure he got the last word, and by the autumn of 1976 the message had got through: Khan was not to be tangled with.

All elements of Project 706 started simultaneously: the building of the main plant at Kahuta, the procurement of essential equipment and materials from Europe, the manufacture of the first prototypes, the establishment of a pilot plant in which to test them, even a weapons design center. Khan had calculated he would need at least ten thousand centrifuges to supply a viable bomb program. He had plumped for the CNOR prototype as it was simpler to build, and since it had been abandoned by URENCO in favor of the G-2 there were dozens of suppliers with vast stockpiles of unwanted components they were desperate to sell. But the CNOR had a design flaw that URENCO had never completely resolved: its bottom bearing, a tiny ball stuck onto a needle and attached to the base plate of the machine’s rotor. The needle supported the weight of the rotor as it spun at up to 70,000 rpm, and to counter the friction a spiral groove, virtually invisible to the human eye, was etched on to the underside of the bearing, which sat in a tiny cup of lubricant. High-definition computer-driven lathes had to etch this groove onto the underside of the bearing, and even a minute irregularity would cause the rotor to tilt and the machine to crash. The exact dimensions of the bearing and its spiral groove had been among the most highly classified secrets at the Almelo plant, and it was clear from letters that Khan now sent to former colleagues at URENCO that he had been unable to obtain these specifications.

It was just another problem on a long list of challenges to surmount. “It was an uphill task with every step being marred by a new set of intricate problems … A country which could not make sewing needles, good bicycles or even durable metalled roads was embarking on one of the latest and most difficult technologies,” he wrote.

A small power station was also constructed to make Kahuta independent of Pakistan’s grid, which was so unstable and overdrawn that during the summer large sections of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were plunged into darkness. Khan also insisted that Project 706 aim to become self-sufficient in manufacturing components, and Brigadier Sajawal was ordered to build machine-tool workshops, ready to house state-of-the-art European equipment capable of reverse-engineering centrifuge parts. Aside from the technical sections, Kahuta also needed guard towers, alarm systems, a paved road wide enough for trucks, communications, staff facilities, guest houses for visiting scientists. Brigadier Sajawal estimated that the basic infrastructure alone would take three years to finish. So, while his men bulldozed, Khan and his small team of scientists worked on designing a Pakistani prototype centrifuge (which they called the P-1)

Griffin, who would become inseparable from Khan, supplying machines, parts and tools to him for two decades, recounted how, in the summer of 1976, when he was a young sales manager at a Swansea-based machine-tool supplier called Scimitar, he received a phone call that would change his life. For Abdus Salam, the Pakistani-born businessman on the other end of the line, it was a misdial. He had been looking for the British office of US machine-tool giant Rockwell International, which helped make NASA’s space shuttle, but instead got the UK agent of its power-tool division in Wales. Nevertheless, the conversation that followed led to an introduction to Khan. Griffin said: “Salam wanted £1 million in Rockwell power tools. Top-of-the-range, US-made equipment. One million pounds of it. Of course I could do the deal even though I was not Rockwell. We agreed to meet in London.” There, Salam revealed that the equipment was for a “brilliant young Pakistani scientist” called Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was “trying to help his country industrialize and enter the modern age.”

There were often loyalties at play beyond Griffin’s comprehension. Once, when he tried to convince Khan to stop buying laser rangefinders from China which were actually manufactured by Israel and would have been far cheaper sourced directly from there, Khan had refused. “No, we import them from the Chinese,” he said. “The Chinese are our friends.”

The Pakistanis sometimes referred to their burgeoning network as “Operation Butter Factory,” a name that harked back to the 1960s when Albrecht Migule had built a margarine factory for the son of General Ayub Khan. Khan, Butt, ul-Haq and other ISI agents mentioned this in-joke in their correspondence, describing enriched uranium as “cake,” “sweets” or “biscuits,” the end product produced from the “butter” or UF6 that Migule had helpfully provided by building the fluorine and uranium conversion plants. But on the ground, Khan’s men made very little attempt to cover their tracks, preparing contracts that stipulated delivery directly to the Director General, Special Works Organization, Rawalpindi, and handing out checks from government accounts held at the National Bank of Pakistan.

One reason for this openness was that Khan knew that Europe had no idea what he was up to. Because centrifuge technology was so new and poorly understood, the checks and balances that should have been triggered by the trade failed. Most of the components Khan requested were not on any IAEA list of nuclear-sensitive equipment and were not subject to any European export controls. Even though some of the components were vast, among them a complete gasification and solidification unit (to feed UF6 gas into the centrifuges and then transform it back into a solid form) which required three Hercules C-130 transport planes to get it to Pakistan, most sales were vetted and approved by Europe’s governments.

Greed, lax custom inspections, an overly bureaucratic IAEA, governments’ pursuit of their national interests, and antiquated legislation were all being exploited ruthlessly, and clearly Western governments and suppliers underestimated Pakistan. Dr. Shafiq, whose father was busy building centrifuge halls as components came flooding in, reflected: “Everything came from the UK, Germany and France and was openly transacted. The companies would tell their governments, ‘These silly buggers in Pakistan want to spend billions’ and their governments would say, ‘If these silly buggers have got the cash then let them have it.’ We would say vacuum pumps; we need them for oil and gas, etc. But it was all going to Kahuta.” Later, when he had all he needed, Khan openly agreed: “The Western world was sure that an underdeveloped country like Pakistan could never master this technology”

In Pakistan, things appeared to be going so well that in 1976 prime minister Bhutto ordered test tunnels to be constructed at two locations in western Balochistan, five in the Ras Koh range on the Balochistan plateau, and one beneath the sands of the Kharan Desert, a hundred miles to the west. Brigadier Muhammed Sarfaraz, chief of staff at 5 Corps, oversaw the building work along with Brigadier Sajawal. At Kharan, they constructed a vertical shaft 300 foot deep with a 700-foot horizontal tunnel leading off the bottom. In Ras Koh, five horizontal tunnels were bored directly into the side of a mountain. The tunnels were designed in the shape of a double “S” so that if a bomb was detonated, the explosion would move the mountain outwards and the tunnel would collapse inwards. Each one was capable of withstanding a 20-kiloton explosion explosion, the same magnitude as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Completed in 1980, the tunnels would be sealed until Pakistan was ready.

Despite all the activity at Kahuta and Ras Koh, the international community was oblivious to Pakistan’s uranium enrichment plans, going all out, instead, to block its ongoing deal with France on the reprocessing plant, which it viewed as a prelude to the production of a plutonium bomb. Straining to see what Pakistan was up to, the State Department put Robert Gallucci, a young official in the Bureau of Non-Proliferation, on to the case. He rummaged around in all the classified material he had access to and concluded that “Pakistan’s nuclear industry is not particularly worrisome now” as the Islamic Republic was “at the beginning of its nuclear development.”

US secretary of state Henry Kissinger had tried to head Bhutto’s nuclear ambitions off course during a meeting in New York in 1976, offering him a strange deal. Bhutto was to terminate his reprocessing project in favor of a US-supplied facility that would be located in Iran and be made available to all countries in the region. But Bhutto rejected the offer and, fearing that Pakistan was about to proceed to the next stage of plutonium production, the US Senate proposed an amendment to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act to block economic and military aid, threatening to cut off Pakistan’s annual $162 million US aid package. Bhutto was not rattled. The noise from the US Congress suited him fine, as he had no intention of going ahead with the costly reprocessing plant and was concentrating his energies on Project 706. “Bhutto himself was of the view that the work at Kahuta laboratories should be kept concealed from the world by focusing attention on the purchase of the reprocessing plant,” recalled Kauser Niazi, his information minister.60 Always on the lookout for cost efficiencies, Bhutto also hoped that if Pakistan was seen to abandon its reprocessing plans under American pressure it would not have to compensate the French when it finally pulled out of the deal.

[while Bhutto was under incarceration after Zia’s coup] Somehow, the exasperating CNOR centrifuge whose exacting design had made it so difficult to reconstruct in Pakistan was now up and running at the Sihala pilot plant. Khan was even preparing to introduce UF6 gas into the centrifuge chamber and to attempt, for the very first time, to enrich uranium. It was remarkably rapid progress for a man who just two years before had been a translator at the FDO lab in Amsterdam, and a solace for Bhutto as he awaited his fate.

Excerpted from “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network

AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part V : The Malaysian Connection

Reads as if right out of Frederick Forsyth novel.

In London, the intelligence community’s concerns about A. Q. Khan were so intense by 2002 that he became the topic of discussion at a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the joint intelligence committee (JIC) at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, the forum in which the combined British intelligence services met to discuss the most pressing threats to the UK. In March 2002, the British intelligence community was asked to provide a detailed assessment of everything it knew about Khan and Pakistan’s proliferation activities. It was two years since the JIC had last discussed the subject. Having decided to do nothing in 2000, what was then an “incomplete picture of the supply of uranium enrichment equipment to at least one customer in the Middle East, thought to be Libya,” had evolved by 2002, on Musharraf’s watch, into a “widespread network” based in Dubai and assisted by “certain African governments”—the ones Khan had visited in 1998, 1999 and 2000 under the guise of fixing up the Hendrina Khan Hotel. Khan had also “established his own production facilities in Malaysia,” which were being run by “a network of associates and suppliers,” led by B. S. A A. Tahir, Khan’s Sri Lankan protégé.

Calling in intelligence from abroad, the JIC found that Khan had made forty-four visits to Dubai since Tahir’s wedding in June 1998, an event at which, the British officials were informed, Khan had fixed his plan to move out of Pakistan, to Dubai, Southeast Asia and Africa. In fact, as Peter Griffin recalled, Khan had been in Dubai since the 1970s, and what the British had spotted was simply an intensification of his activities there. Although the British were still unclear as to the range of customers being supported through this newly revived network, several of Khan’s original suppliers were being followed by the security services, including Peter Griffin, a Dubai resident since 1997, where he had established Gulf Technical Industries (GTI) to import and export engineering parts and machine tools.

By 2002, Griffin knew he was being trailed, but claimed his business with Khan had all but ceased. “They were following the wrong man,” recalled Griffin. “It was Tahir who was up to his neck in it.” Tahir had come a long way from sleeping on the floor of his uncle Farouq’s apartment, helping run the family fruit and vegetable business in a corrugated hut behind Dubai’s Nasser Square. By 2002 his firm, SMB Computers, was booming, with more than 200 employees, and the day-to-day business was being run by his brother Saeed Buhary, while Tahir used SMB as a cover to supply Khan’s proliferation operations in Libya, Iran and North Korea.He also had a new manufacturing base.

Tahir’s relationship with and subsequent marriage to Nazimah Syed Majid, a Malaysian diplomat’s daughter, had brought him influence, respectability and permanent residency in Malaysia. The year before they married she had introduced him to Kamal Abdullah, the son of Malaysia’s future prime minister, Abdullah Badawi. Kamal owned SCOMI, an up-and-coming petroleum and gas company which had yet to find its feet, and in 1997 Tahir helped SCOMI rise, buying a 25 percent stake as a silent partner. In December 2000, Kamal asked Tahir to join his venture capital business, Kaspadu. All the while the patient Tahir was edging closer to his real goal, establishing a manufacturing front in Malaysia. Tahir and Kamal had much in common. After thirteen years in Dubai, Tahir had learned a lot about the oil and gas industry, and by 2000 SCOMI was riding high on the Malaysian stock exchange, and looking for new investment opportunities. Tahir had a few ideas—that would work for him and also for his mentor in Pakistan.

Khan needed to supply Libya, Iran and North Korea with nuclear-related components which were increasingly difficult to source in the West, where customs authorities immediately investigated any shipments connected to KRL and Pakistan. He could make most of these things at the KRL workshops, but getting them out of Pakistan was also problematic. Malaysia was virgin territory. With no nuclear program, it was ignored by the IAEA and had virtually no laws against the manufacture and export of dual-use components that could be deployed in a nuclear program. Malaysian engineers were adaptable and had a reputation for being able to copy anything cheaply and reliably. Shoes, Sony Walkmans, or centrifuges, it was all the same to them. It was the perfect location for the kind of low-key operation that Khan needed.

In December 2001, Tahir approached SCOMI with a formal business plan, a precision-engineering plant to manufacture aluminum components for oil and gas producers in Dubai. Tahir had identified a disused plant in Shah Alam, an industrial town fifteen miles north of Kuala Lumpur, where skilled labor was cheap and space was plentiful. Engineers from Europe were ready to fit it out and Tahir had negotiated for a German company, Bikar Metal, to supply top-grade aluminum. The plant would produce fourteen components to European standard but for a much cheaper price. Tahir had negotiated with two companies to handle the export side of the business. The Aryash Trading Company would dispatch goods from Malaysia and Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), Peter Griffin’s company, would receive them in Dubai, something Griffin said he knew nothing about.

In December 2001, Tahir established SCOMI Precision Engineering (SCOPE), in which Kamal Abdullah, the deputy prime minister’s son, was a partner. Tahir brought in Urs Tinner, a Swiss technical consultant and son of Friedrich “Fred” Tinner, the former export manager of a Swiss firm that had supplied vacuum pumps for Khan’s uranium enrichment plant as far back as 1977. Urs Tinner went to work fitting out the new Shah Alam factory, importing precision-engineering equipment from the UK, USA and Taiwan through Traco, Switzerland, a company owned by his brother, Marco Tinner.

Urs Tinner also brought with him European blueprints for the aluminum components the factory was to produce. Workers at the plant noted that he was always careful to take back the technical drawings once they had copied them down. But no one was suspicious, as they were told the factory was manufacturing components for the petroleum industry in Dubai and Tinner was only advocating caution to protect European patents. But unbeknown to the manufacturing line in Shah Alam, to Kamal Abdullah and the upper echelons of Kuala Lumpur society, Tahir was producing dual-use components for the illicit nuclear weapons industry. With Malaysia as the point of production, Swiss engineers running the factory, German and Swiss companies supplying the raw materials, and not a Pakistani name in sight, it was invisible to the intelligence community.

Tahir was prescient. He had shifted to Malaysia just in time. In October 2001 the British courts moved against his UK business partner Abu Bakr Siddiqui, prosecuting him for evading export restrictions and shipping nuclear-related equipment to Pakistan. Bakr was sentenced to a twelve-month suspended sentence with a £6000 fine; SMB Europe was dissolved and Tahir turned his back on the UK.

Excerpted from “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network

AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part III : Nuclear Yard Sale

But first Musharraf would need to make an overt display of strong-arm tactics to get the US off his back. After Clinton returned to Washington, Musharraf’s new man, General Feroz Khan, met Einhorn’s special group and assured them that his namesake A. Q. Khan would have to abide by the new regulations of the National Command Authority along with everyone else. He also advised that Lieutenant General Syed Mohammed Amjad, head of Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau, had been ordered to quiz A. Q. Khan over allegations of corruption and private profiteering. Nawaz Sharif had used the same ruse in 1998, telling the US that the ISI was investigating Khan, despite the fact that the spy directorate’s chief knew of no such investigation. Amjad’s report would never surface and he later resigned, disaffected with his brief. The elusive inquiries—which got nowhere or never happened—coincided with a handful of high-profile, theatrical raids conducted by the ISI, including the storming of a C-130 plane that was supposedly chartered by Khan and heading for North Korea. When nothing incriminating was found, Musharraf claimed: “We got some suspicious reports … [but] unfortunately, either you know, he was tipped off or whatever … we just could not catch them red-handed.” One of those who led the raids was more candid. “We rang KRL first and checked the coast was clear. This was meant to demonstrate a point.” Husain Haqqani was incredulous. “It was a lot of hot air. The military had been in sole control of KRL and PAEC since Zia’s days. They had always been in charge of Khan—in that all of his activities were governed by their orders. And now he was being portrayed as operating beyond the state. It was a put-on show for the US.”

It was to the military orders that governed Khan that Musharraf next turned. Since Zia’s time, every sale had been sanctioned by the military and now Pakistan’s chief executive decided to legitimize nuclear proliferation altogether. Musharraf ordered the publishing in national newspapers of the secret menu that A. Q. Khan had long been touting around Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Africa and the Middle East. Everything on the menu would still be available, the government announced, the only difference being that in future a permit would be required from the Defense Control Committee, chaired by Musharraf and whomever he picked as his prime minister. The advertisement hit the streets on 24 July 2000, and Washington was horrified by what it read:

The items listed in the advertisement can be in the form of metal alloys, chemical compounds, or other materials containing any of the following: 1. Natural, depleted or enriched uranium; 2. Thorium, plutonium or zirconium; 3. Heavy water, tritium, or beryllium; 4. Natural or artificial radioactive materials with more than 0.002 microcuries per gram; 5. Nuclear-grade graphite with a boron equivalent content of less than five parts per million and density greater than 1.5 g/cubic centimeter.

It was the whole shebang, everything anyone needed to make a nuclear bomb.  Listed was equipment “for the production, use or application of nuclear energy and generation of electricity,” including “gas centrifuges and magnet baffles for the separation of uranium isotopes” and “UF6 mass spectrometers and frequency changers.” They made it appear that Pakistan was for the first time applying rigorous export controls to a prohibited trade that was to be governed by the Pakistan authorities. In reality the advertisement blew to pieces the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and decades of arms controls which had to date kept the nuclear club down to five declared and a handful of undeclared nuclear powers—and was Musharraf’s clumsy bid to find a get-rich-quick scheme for Pakistan.

Former army chief General Beg saw the advertisements for what they were and, writing in an Urdu newspaper, championed them as the Islamic Atoms for Peace. “This is the best way for Pakistan to pay off her debts,” he argued, conceding that Pakistan “used to sell atomic material and equipment quietly and secretly.”

If any more evidence were needed that Khan’s proliferation activities were being actively promoted by Musharraf’s military regime, it came in November 2000 when the Pakistan army staged “IDEAS 2000,” an international munitions fair in Karachi.52The central exhibit was a large Khan Research Laboratories booth promoting the sale of centrifuges with an after-sales consultancy service that included “installation, repair and maintenence” thrown in. Alan Coke, a senior editor from Jane’s Defense Weekly, who visited the KRL booth, recalled: “They were handing out glossy brochures offering the kind of technology that would be directly applicable in a nuclear weapons program, the whole kit and caboodle, all in one.” When Coke asked a KRL representative if everything in the brochure was cleared for export he was told: “Of course, it wouldn’t be on the shelf if it wasn’t.”

Excerpted from “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network

For further reading

Why Pakistan is advertising its nuclear wares

Interview of General Aslam Beg confirming and actually supporting the ad!

 

AQ Khan and Nuclear Bomb : Part I : Introduction

However, when the war in Afghanistan ended, Bush cut Pakistan adrift, terminating aid in 1990, marking the last significant contact between the US and a nuclear-ready Pakistan until cruise missiles slammed into Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan in 1998..No one was looking at the Islamic Republic, even as intelligence began backing up in Europe, India and Israel to show that its military nuclear network had reacted to the aid cut-off by escalating the black-market deals in nuclear technology, eyeing markets hostile to the West.

By the time President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, and throughout his two terms, an ever more detailed picture was pieced together of Pakistan’s dangerous liaisons: Iran in 1987, Iraq in 1990, North Korea in 1993, and by 1997 Libya, too.

Things would get worse. By the time George W. Bush secured the presidency in 2001, a mountain of incredibly precise intelligence portrayed Pakistan as the epicenter of global instability: a host and patron for Islamist terrorism, ruled by a military clique that was raising capital and political influence by selling weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

However, in the days and months that followed September 11, Wolfowitz and others set about building a new house of cards. Pakistan’s President Musharraf pledged to round up al-Qaeda and to assist in mopping up the Taliban, giving up their leaders and busting their sanctuaries in the inhospitable border region with Afghanistan. Musharraf became integral to American plans, lending the Pentagon airspace, passing intelligence and mounting operations in regions where no Western soldier could ever hope to go. The Bush administration weighed his value as a potential ally against the harm Pakistan’s nuclear program could do, just as Carter and Reagan had done before. Despite overwhelming evidence of a building nuclear crisis, in which a state leaking nuclear technology was also concealing terrorists who were seeking it, the White House decided to do nothing.

In October 2003, Richard Armitage flew to Islamabad to meet Musharraf. The White House agenda was to keep the general onside. A drama was conceived that drew from Musharraf a promise to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear black market in return for winning US support for his unelected regime. It was agreed that A. Q. Khan would be arrested, along with a dozen of his fellow scientists, but Pakistan would keep hold of them, allowing the West to pose limitless questions via ISI interrogators but leaving the country’s military elite in the clear.

As White House calls for regime change in Iran rose to a clamor in 2006, Pakistan’s President Musharraf turned off the intelligence tap, shutting down all investigations into Khan. Then Musharraf’s contribution to the war on terror began to fall apart at the seams. Militants arrested in the post-9/11 heat were released and allowed to re-form their jihadi groups under new names. A neo-Taliban flourished in Pakistan’s tribal border areas, from where they struck fatally at Afghan, British and American forces. Most worrying, al-Qaeda began merging with Pakistan’s home-grown terrorists, spawning new camps, new graduates and new missions abroad. By 2007, Pakistan’s nuclear sales network was flourishing again. The Islamic Republic had learned to manufacture the restricted components and materials, electronic equipment and super-strong metals needed for a ready-made nuclear weapons facility which they were selling to anyone who could come up with the cash. Pakistan’s arsenal, developed at Washington’s grace and favor, was sliding out of control as terrorists gained new footholds in Islamabad.

Excerpted from “Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network

Nuclear Proliferation and Pakistan Military

From the Introduction of book Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons

However, when the war in Afghanistan ended, Bush cut Pakistan adrift, terminating aid in 1990, marking the last significant contact between the US and a nuclear-ready Pakistan until cruise missiles slammed into Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan in 1998. No one was looking at the Islamic Republic, even as intelligence began backing up in Europe, India and Israel to show that its military nuclear network had reacted to the aid cut-off by escalating the black-market deals in nuclear technology, eyeing markets hostile to the West.

By the time President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, and throughout his two terms, an ever more detailed picture was pieced together of Pakistan’s dangerous liaisons: Iran in 1987, Iraq in 1990, North Korea in 1993, and by 1997 Libya, too.

Things would get worse. By the time George W. Bush secured the presidency in 2001, a mountain of incredibly precise intelligence portrayed Pakistan as the epicenter of global instability: a host and patron for Islamist terrorism, ruled by a military clique that was raising capital and political influence by selling weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

However, in the days and months that followed September 11, Wolfowitz and others set about building a new house of cards. Pakistan’s President Musharraf pledged to round up al-Qaeda and to assist in mopping up the Taliban, giving up their leaders and busting their sanctuaries in the inhospitable border region with Afghanistan. Musharraf became integral to American plans, lending the Pentagon airspace, passing intelligence and mounting operations in regions where no Western soldier could ever hope to go. The Bush administration weighed his value as a potential ally against the harm Pakistan’s nuclear program could do, just as Carter and Reagan had done before. Despite overwhelming evidence of a building nuclear crisis, in which a state leaking nuclear technology was also concealing terrorists who were seeking it, the White House decided to do nothing.

In October 2003, Richard Armitage flew to Islamabad to meet Musharraf. The White House agenda was to keep the general onside. A drama was conceived that drew from Musharraf a promise to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear black market in return for winning US support for his unelected regime. It was agreed that A. Q. Khan would be arrested, along with a dozen of his fellow scientists, but Pakistan would keep hold of them, allowing the West to pose limitless questions via ISI interrogators but leaving the country’s military elite in the clear.

As White House calls for regime change in Iran rose to a clamor in 2006, Pakistan’s President Musharraf turned off the intelligence tap, shutting down all investigations into Khan. Then Musharraf’s contribution to the war on terror began to fall apart at the seams. Militants arrested in the post-9/11 heat were released and allowed to re-form their jihadi groups under new names. A neo-Taliban flourished in Pakistan’s tribal border areas, from where they struck fatally at Afghan, British and American forces. Most worrying, al-Qaeda began merging with Pakistan’s home-grown terrorists, spawning new camps, new graduates and new missions abroad. By 2007, Pakistan’s nuclear sales network was flourishing again. The Islamic Republic had learned to manufacture the restricted components and materials, electronic equipment and super-strong metals needed for a ready-made nuclear weapons facility which they were selling to anyone who could come up with the cash. Pakistan’s arsenal, developed at Washington’s grace and favor, was sliding out of control as terrorists gained new footholds in Islamabad.