NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS
2008: Pakistani nuclear weapons
scientist A Q Khan recently admitted that the Pakistani Army knew he was
selling nuclear weapons secrets to Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Previously, he
had insisted that he, and his small group of accomplices, had done it all themselves.
in 2003, the U.S. imposed sanction on a North Korean and
Pakistani firm (Changgwang Sinyong Corporation and A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories) for illegally trading missile
technology for nuclear technology. Khan had been suspected of peddling nuclear
secrets as far back as the late 1990s. In 2004, Khan finally admitted it. There
was popular outrage at a Pakistani politicians suggestion that A Q Khan, who
originally stole technology from the West and created Pakistans nuclear bombs,
be questioned by foreign police for his role in selling that technology (as a
private venture) to other nations (like Libya and North Korea).
placed under house arrest for after he confessed, kept away from journalists, but
was otherwise untouchable, because he was a national hero for creating the
"Islamic Bomb." Popular demand eventually led to Khan being released
from house arrest earlier this year.
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) earlier concluded that the 2006 nuclear
weapons test in North Korea was a failure. This came after analysis of air
samples, seismic (using earthquake detectors) and spy satellite data. There was
a nuclear explosion, of about one kiloton, but it was the result of a
improperly constructed nuclear weapon. Sort of a very low grade nuclear weapon
that vaporized, rather than detonated, most of its nuclear material. This sort
of explosion is called a "fizzle" and was last seen in 1998, when a Pakistani
nuclear weapons test produced a very similar result. What's interesting about
this is that the group of Pakistani nuclear scientists (the Kahn group) who
were secretly peddling nuclear weapons technology during the 1990s, were
apparently selling a defective design.
received a pardon from president Pervez Musharraf, but was placed under house
arrest and kept from the media. Musharraf was head of the army during the time
that Khan and his cronies were peddling their nuclear secrets. Musharraf is now
president of a government controlled by opposition parties. Khan has not said
that Musharraf knew specifically of the sale of Pakistani nuclear weapons
secrets, or made any money from it. But someone had to be paid off to enable
North Korean aircraft to load up with Pakistani nuclear weapons related
equipment, and taking off for a flight home.
level of corruption in Pakistan was always a major factor in trying to prevent
the Pakistanis from getting nuclear weapons. They have sold them once, and it
is feared they would do so again. If not the weapons themselves, then the
technology to build ones that work.