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Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Friday, February 06, 2004  
Dr. Doom & Doom Jr.

This is a sovereign country. No document will be given. No independent investigation will take place. There is a written mercy appeal from Khan's side and there is a written pardon from my side. No rollback of Pakistan's nuclear programme will ever happen.

The "outing" of Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear deals and the exposure of a procurement network of nuclear weapons technology (see below) is causing (at last) vast global repercussions. Mohammed El Baradei, head of the IAEI, sounds terrified! (And still reeling from the fact that Libya has more than anybody guessed.) He says: "Mr Khan is the tip of the iceberg. His confession raises more questions than it answers. A lot of other people are involved. Items were made in one county, assembled in others and shipped on false certificates."

Meanwhile: more revelations and accusations.

The CIA (who credit themselves and MI6 with having unveiled this illicit international network, not without justification, although remember how much they choose to conceal or reveal at a given moment) have also murmured their "suspicions" that Syria and Saudi Arabia were prominent Khan clients.

Iran is accused of hiding the full extent of its nuclear programme. A senior US official has claimed that Tehran still has a lot of equipment that the IAEA does not know about.

The list of countries whose companies have supplied parts to middlemen has extended to include Japan, Malaysia, South Africa and two more - so far unnamed - European countries.

The case of Malaysia is a juicy one as it seems to tie up all the loose ends in one tightly-bound radioactive bundle. To explain:

A Malaysian company is being investigated on the charge of supplying parts to Libya. The company (Scomi Precision Engineering, aka Scope) is owned by Kamaluddin Abdullah, son of the Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Badawi. On October the 4th last year "suspicious parts" were seized from a ship bound for Malaysia - uranium centrifuges contained in wooden boxes emblazoned with the Scope company badge. The ship was German-owned, and seized in Italy. It was revealed that Mr. BSA Tabir - a Sri Lankan businessman based in Dubai - had, in 2001, negotiated a contract with Scope to manufacture the components destined for Libya. It further transpired that Tabir was a middleman employed by one Abdul Qadeer Khan. The parts seized by the Italian police exactly resembled the designs Khan stole and refined in his own laboratories in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the US and the UK seem unlikely to push too hard on Musharraf's refusal to sanction any investigations into Khan, his labs, and the role of the Pakistani military in this proliferation outrage. Some claim that Musharraf's reluctance is due to "how much Pakistan has to hide" - but it's as much, if not more, to do with checking the ire of the Islamist forces currently ranged against him.

10:48 PM

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