Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | UN alert as nuclear plans go missing

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | UN alert as nuclear plans go missing

Electronic drawings that give comprehensive details of how to build and test equipment essential for making nuclear bombs have vanished and could be put up for sale on the international black market, according to UN investigators.

The blueprints, running to hundreds of pages, show how to make centrifuges for enriching uranium. In addition, the investigators have been unable to trace key components for uranium centrifuge rigs and fear that drawings for a nuclear warhead have been secreted away and could be for sale.

Inspectors at the UN’s nuclear authority, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have been investigating the worst nuclear smuggling racket ever uncovered, headed by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The operation was discovered two years ago to be selling sensitive nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

A senior official said several sets of blueprints for uranium centrifuges - the so-called P-1 and more advanced P-2 systems which were peddled by the Khan network - have gone missing.

“We know there were several sets of them prepared,” said the official. “So who got those electronic drawings? We have only actually got to the one full set from Libya. So who got the rest, the copies?

”We have no evidence they were destroyed. One possibility is another client. We just don’t know where they are."

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