Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Pakistan admits Khan sold secrets to Iran: UK paper

Daily Times - Site EditionPakistan admits Khan sold secrets to Iran: UK paper

Pakistan has reportedly ‘admitted’ for the first time that Dr A Q Khan passed nuclear secrets and equipment to Iranian officials, says The Sunday Telegraph, a respected British newspaper. The paper’s report yesterday said that an investigation by Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, details of which were disclosed to The Telegraph according to the paper, confirmed that Khan and his associates sold nuclear codes, materials, components and plans that left his “signature” at the core of the Iranian nuclear programme. The newspaper claims that the admission came during private talks in Brussels at the end of last month between European Union officials and senior ministers from Pakistan and India. The EU officials were told that cooperation between Teheran and Khan, 68, and associates from his Khan Research Laboratories began in the mid-1990s and included more than a dozen meetings over several years.

Most of these meetings were between Mohammad Farooq, a centrifuge expert from KRL, and Iranians in Karachi, Kuala Lumpur and Teheran. Pakistani investigators have told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that centrifuge drawings acquired by Iran closely resemble the design of the first-generation Pakistan-1 centrifuge. Khan also helped the Iranians to set up a secret procurement network involving companies and middlemen around the world, ISI investigators found. The IAEA told Pakistani officials that centrifuges they had discovered at the Doshan Tapeh military base in eastern Teheran closely resembled the more advanced Pakistan-2 centrifuges.

The Sunday Telegraph says that Pakistan had previously resisted admitting Khan’s role in Iran’s nuclear plans for fear of diplomatic repercussions. Teheran claims that it “plans to enrich only to the levels that are used to generate nuclear fuel”. A CIA report, however, concluded this was a lie. The ISI found that Khan and his associates had approached some potential buyers of weapons of mass destruction, including Saddam Hussein’s regime. “Iraqi officials initially agreed but later backed out because they thought it might be a sting operation or a ploy by the US to implicate them,” said one official, according to The Sunday Telegraph. Pakistani investigators found that Khan’s network tried not only to satisfy existing demand but also to create new markets for their proliferation activities. “They started working it both ways. They provided options to those who wanted to buy this sensitive material but also developed new markets for their wares.”

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