NBC Weapons: Bad Bomb Designs For Sale



July 8, 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.

Back 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).

Khan was 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.

The U.S. 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.

Khan 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.

The high 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.




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