Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

AQ Khan: Crime and punishment?

In terms of the nuclear black market, this article "THE A.Q. KHAN NETWORK: CRIME… AND PUNISHMENT?" gives a good rundown of how AQ Khan's network operated, using Libya as the case study. There's a nice graphic there which explains the sourcing of all the components - I can't replicate it here so you'll have to go look yourselves.

As is suggested in the headline, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of punishment going on - not only was AQ Khan pardoned, but many of the other players in the network, across many countries, were either released, given light penalties, still waiting on trials, put under 'house arrest', or conveniently dead.

Of the many participants from Pakistan, primarily from AQ Khan's Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and the Pakistan military, only AQ Khan's principal deputy is currently in detention.

Malaysia's Tahir is also in dentention. He ran SCOPE in Malaysia where much of Khan's manufacturing was done, and also a distribution hub in Dubai.

The members of the Tinner family are being held is Switzerland, but:
"The Bush administration is ignoring requests from Swiss officials to hand over information that would help prosecute alleged members of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's underground nuclear network.
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Over the past year Swiss officials have requested at least four times that the Bush administration share documents and evidence related to Khan's nuclear black market. But the United States has never responded.

Swiss officials maintain it needs U.S. assistance in order to convict three Swiss men accused of helping AQ Khan set up a secret Malaysian factory to make components for gas centrifuges."

In the US, Asher Karni was arrested in January 04, and released on only $100,000 bail. He was convicted in August 2005, and sentenced to three years in prison, although this court docket says that he "is scheduled to be released on August 12, 2006." I'm not sure if that is a typographical error.

The only other US participant in the network was Zeki Bilmen of Giza Technologies of New Jersey. Bilmen was Karni's supplier but was never charged. Bilmen died in 2004, from cancer according to his family, although others suggest that he " died under suspicious circumstances." Giza continues to operate.

On the Turkish front, Selim Alguadis of EKA, friend and associate of Zeki Bilmen, was arrested in Germany and is awaiting charges. One of Turkey's richest men, Gunes Cire of ETI Elektroteknik, died, aged 66, shortly after his arrest. I couldn't find any details about how/why he died. His son now runs the company.

Despite the fact that ETI Elektroteknik and EKA appear to manufacture the kind of technology that might be used in building nuclear capacity, it appears as though they were actually only facilitating the delivery of the relevant components. The Center for Nonproliferation Studies (pdf) describes the process thusly:
A June 8, 2005 article by Milliyet indicated that A.Q. Khan and the entities that worked with him had arranged for the acquisition of dual-use nuclear equipment related to uranium enrichment from German firms. The equipment was then shipped to Turkey in order to circumvent German export control requirements, which are less strict for items sent to Turkey, a NATO ally and member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. From Turkey, the items were transshipped to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Pakistan, with some items forwarded to the Malaysian firm SCOPE, which then prepared these items for use in Libya’s nuclear program.
To the extent that is true, note Alguadis' dodge in the Financial Times:
Turkish equipment, including centrifuge motors and frequency converters destined for Libya's now abandoned nuclear weapons programme, turned up in Tripoli in March this year aboard a ship that had sailed from Dubai in 2003. Mr Alguadis said his company, EKA, did make frequency converters but had not exported any to Dubai in 2003, and it made no motors of any kind.

For more on the nuclear black market, see here. Sibel seems to know a whole lot about this network - and I understand that KTM talks about it in length.

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