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A Q Khan's network helping Iran's N-plan, says report
The Rediff News Bureau | May 04, 2007 13:45 IST
India may be facing some heat from American Congressmen over its ties with Iran, but the latest report from the London-based think-tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies may put the spotlight on Pakistan.
The IISS report, titled 'Nuclear black markets: Pakistan, A Q Khan and the rise of proliferation networks', states that the proliferation network run by Pakistan's nuclear buccaneer Abdul Qadir Khan is not only well and truly alive but that Iran is actually a beneficiary of it.
While Iran has denied that Pakistani nuclear scientists helped it in its quest for nuclear power, the report says Khan supplied the Islamic nation with centrifuges, technical designs, components and a shopping list of suppliers. Worryingly for the rest of the world, the report adds that at least parts of the network may still be in operation.
'At least some of Khan's associates appear to have escaped law-enforcement attention and could, after a period of lying low, resume their black-market business.'
The report doesn't leave out who the buyer of their services could be. Iran, it points out, remains the most active customer in the nuclear black market.
At the height of his network's operation, Dr Khan provided nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, before finally being busted by then CIA director George Tenet. Although Dr Khan admitted to his culpability, Pakistan has not allowed him to be interrogated by anyone other than its own officials.
While details about what Iran has got from Khan are unclear, John Chipman, IISS's executive director states in his introduction to the report that Khan helped Iran make significant advances in its clandestine nuclear programme.
'There are too many unanswered questions about the role Pakistani technology played in aiding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea for other countries to conclude that Pakistan has done all it can to account for Khan's activities,' Chipman added in a press statement.
The IISS report is likely put Pakistan on the back foot, increase demand from American lawmakers about access to Dr A Q Khan which in turn is likely to harden Pakistan's stance on the issue. Tellingly, within Pakistan Dr Khan remains a national hero.