Associated Press
A.Q. Khan, founder of Pakistan's nuclear

Smuggling Ring May Have Disseminated Nuclear Secrets

June 17, 2008 09:41 AM
by Josh Katz
Countries like North Korea, Iran and Libya may have accessed blueprints for strategic nuclear weapons, according to a report by a former UN arms inspector.

30-Second Summary

Former top UN arms inspector David Albright authored the report stating that the A.Q. Khan smuggling ring obtained blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon and may have shared them with many “countries or rogue groups,” according to The Washington Post.

Information on how to produce a nuclear weapon has been given to such countries before, Albright indicates. But he says this case is different because of the weapon’s small size. The compact device could fit on a ballistic missile, and that is the “holy grail” for countries like Iran and North Korea, said BBC's Security correspondent Gordon Correra, the blog Nuclear Arms Wonk reports.

Abdul Qadeer Khan is renowned as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, but in 2003 intelligence surfaced that he had provided other nations with nuclear secrets. In 2004 he confessed to heading an international smuggling ring, and he has been held under house arrest ever since.

But in late May, A.Q. Khan disavowed his prior confession, saying that President Pervez Musharraf forced him to admit to criminal activities. He is still considered a hero in Pakistan, and with Musharraf’s downfall, Khan’s travel restrictions have eased. The U.S. has warned Pakistan that releasing Khan could cause a “world of trouble.”

Many analysts agree that if Albright’s report is true the implications can be quite serious. But Nuclear Arms Wonk argues that the critical point occurred when North Korea first obtained possession of a nuclear bomb; the technology to place it on a missile should not make that much of a practical difference, the blog says.

Headline Links: Smuggling ring may have spread nuclear technology

Background: Khan renounces confession

Opinion & Analysis: The seriousness of the threat, the culpability of Khan

Key Player: A.Q. Khan

Related Topic: Congressional hearing on Syrian-North Korean nuclear links


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