Vienna: The black market network supplying illicit nuclear technology had substantial and sensitive information on how to make atomic arms, the IAEA has revealed.
It said much of the network’s material was passed on to customers in electronic form — giving a potentially unlimited number of clients access, whether they were governments or individuals. The IAEA’s information was contained in a report on Libya and based on investigations conducted since Libya renounced its efforts to make nuclear weapons in 2003.
The report is posted on the agency’s internal website for perusal by the IAEA’s 35-nation board. While Libya is no longer a proliferation concern, the report’s revelations on the network headed by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan are important because he also supplied Iran and North Korea with nuclear know-how and hardware and could, therefore, help in investigations of those countries’ programmes.
Diplomats linked to the IAEA said the Libya investigation also revealed that the network had peddled more sophisticated information linked to making nuclear weapons than the agency had previously known.
North Korea went on to develop nuclear weapons but agreed to mothball its programme last year before the disarmament process hit a recent snag over a dispute about verification of its atomic activities. Pakistan: nothing new
Pakistan has downplayed the IAEA report about Mr. Khan’s links with Libya’s clandestine nuclear programme, terming it as “recycling of old allegations.”
Insisting that there was no new revelation in the report, Pakistan said the report essentially provided an overview of Libya’s nuclear programme. “The references to provision of nuclear equipment and related design simply mention the transfers that took place in the past and the conclusions drawn by the IAEA as a result of its follow-up verification activities,” said Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq in a statement.
Presenting this report as a fresh piece of information is an attempt to cast aspersions on Pakistan, said Mr. Sadiq, adding the country has already extended cooperation to the nuclear watchdog in this case.
The confidential report by the IAEA said Libya was in contact with the Mr. Khan’s black market network much earlier than first thought. According to the report, Libya’s contacts with Mr. Khan date back to 1984, 10 years earlier than previously assumed.
Mr. Khan, was placed under house arrest in 2004 after he confessed of his involvement in the non-proliferation networks. Earlier this year, he retracted his confession, saying it was made under pressure.
The IAEA specifically warned about the ease with which weapons designs were transferred through CD-ROMs, computer hard drives and the Internet. The Khan network was active in Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, South Africa, UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan according to the report. — AP, PTI
6 months ago