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View Full Version : Nuclear chief tells of black market in bomb equipment



ELVIS
01-27-2004, 11:05 PM
Ian Traynor
January 26, 2004

The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1130956,00.html)

Global network puts together essential equipment

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, gives notice today of the existence of a nuclear black market of "fantastic cleverness" supplying countries illicitly seeking to develop a nuclear bomb.
Speaking after Pakistan's virtual admission that some of its top scientists were active in the illegal trade networks and the IAEA's confirmation that Libya had acquired a nuclear bomb design, he says in today's issue of Der Spiegel: "It's obvious that the international export controls have completely failed in recent years.

"A nuclear black market has emerged, driven by fantastic cleverness. Designs are drawn in one country, centrifuges are produced in another, they are then shipped via a third country and there is no clarity about the end user.

"Expert nuclear businessmen, unscrupulous firms, and perhaps also state bodies are involved. Libya and Iran made extensive use of this network."

He said at the weekend that his experts were working with Pakistan to try to crack the nuclear black market, the scale of which has stunned the IAEA and the western intelligence services investigating the Libyan and Iranian nuclear programmes.

The IAEA confirmed on Friday that Libya had used the black market to buy equipment for turning uranium into weapons-grade material and had acquired designs for a nuclear warhead.

The chief suspects for helping Iran and Libya are Pakistani scientists who developed their country's bomb. The investigation is now focused on who may have supplied Colonel Muammar Gadafy with a bomb design.

"Did Pakistan provide a nuclear weapons design to Libya?" said David Albright, a US nuclear analyst and former UN inspector who is closely tracking the investigation. "Pakistan has offered that in the past. The IAEA has to know that."

Pakistani investigators went to Iran and Libya last week to seek help in their own inquiry. At the world economic forum in Switzerland in recent days President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan admitted for the first time that nuclear scientists in Islamabad helped the Iranians in the mid-80s and early 90s.

At least eight veterans of the Pakistani bomb programme are currently being held for questioning.

Much of the equipment seen in Libya after Col Gadafy announced last month that he was renouncing weapons of mass destruction is of similar design to Iran's extensive uranium enrichment technology, all based on Pakistani designs derived from a 30-year-old European design.

"The Pakistani government has never, and will never proliferate," President Musharraf said. "As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are carrying out a thorough investigation of any proliferation that may have been done by individuals for their personal financial gain."

His comments reflect the the "rogue scientists" theory officially held by the US and the IAEA: that the Pakistanis implicated in the secret trade were acting privately and without the knowledge or blessing of the government.

But experts and analysts doubt that such sensitive information and technology could have been traded from Pakistan without the involvement of the military and intelligence services.

If the "rogue scientists" explanation may protect Mr Musharraf it is also important to Washington, since he is a key ally in the "war on terror".

Libyan officials have told IAEA investigators that their suppliers of nuclear technology and expertise were "non-state actors", a senior source said. That supports the rogue theory, but Dr ElBaradei said that "state bodies" might be involved.

The information which led to the questioning of the Pakistani scientists came from a dossier on Iran's nuclear activities supplied to the IAEA by Tehran at the end of October.

Hundreds of religious hardliners supporting the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal opposition coalition protested in Rawalpindi yesterday in support of Pakistan's detained scientists, hailing them as heroes.