Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pakistan's Illicit Nuke Network Still Active

By Cernig

The journalist who first uncovered the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network says that the network is still operating, that Pakistan's government is actively protecting Khan himself from scrutiny and that the Pakistani government is making active use of Khan's network.

Raw Story has the details:
A senior editor for Nucleonics Week, Mark Hibbs writes for a specialist journal that follows the nuclear power industry. He published some of the earliest accounts of Khan's illicit trading network, which appears to have hawked uranium enrichment technology and nuclear weapon designs to Iran and Libya.

Speaking at the annual Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference in Washington June 26, Hibbs asserted that Pakistan was still procuring technology for its nuclear weapons program through the network Khan developed.

"We've researched this long after people in the US government suggested to us that the network was dead," Hibbs remarked. "We continue to follow this and find that Pakistan continues to use the network to procure for its nuclear program."

The veteran journalist also said that the broader network Khan built continues to operate.

"I'm satisfied that the networks are still operating," he explained. "The people that are involved in this business...continue to morph over time."

...In his June 26 appearance, Hibbs said that any further Pakistani cooperation with American authorities investigating Khan's network remains unlikely.

"Khan knows a lot more than we do. And he knows a lot more than [International Atomic Energy Agency] knows, and he knows a lot more than the US government knows," he said. "I talked to the chief of the Pakistan Joint Chiefs. This man was the person who was singularly responsible for debriefing Khan after his arrest...he said we could never allow Khan to be interrogated by a foreign govt because 'he has too many of our nuclear secrets.'"
Khan himself has ben pardoned by the Pakistani dictator Musharaff and recent reports allege that he is now essentially a free man with a pack of bodyguards to keep him from talking to the wrong people.

It's difficult, in the circumstances, to disagree with the assessment of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
"Even though the threat of terrorists getting access to nuclear weapons is cited as the greatest threat to American national security, the President has responded by giving Pakistan a squadron of F-16’s, a giant 'get out of jail free card' and has declared that the network has been 'shut down.'"
At which point I wonder, given the Republican's previous record, how, who and where the kickbacks for looking the other way are received. I mean, other than the obvious recycling of American taxpayer's money into profits for GOP-donating arms-makers via military aid to Pakistan, a laundering operation if ever there was one.

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