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Friday 30 December 2011

AQ Khan gave nuclear tech to India: US arms expert

AQ Khan gave nuclear tech to India: US arms expert
TNN | Dec 23, 2011, 04.50AM IST

WASHINGTON: A US arms control expert has made the astonishing claim
that Pakistan's notorious nuclear engineer A Q Khan may have passed on
nuclear technology to India.

The source of the article is as surprising as the claim is fantastic.
In a commentary in Playboy, Joshua Pollack, a US policy wonk who has
worked on nuclear proliferation, says India may have been the secret,
unnamed "fourth country" - after Iran, Libya and North Korea - to
which AQ Khan "provided the shortcut to a nuclear weapon".

Pollack offers little credible evidence to back the contention, other
than to point similarities between the centrifuges India uses in its
uranium-enrichment program and Pakistan's centrifuges engineered by
Khan. He also cites South African court documents claiming a member of
the 'Khan network' supplied India's centrifuge program with
specialized equipment, starting in the late 1980s.

According to Pollack, although India went nuclear several years before
Pakistan, it was through the plutonium route (in 1972). India could
break ground on its uranium enrichment facility only in 1986, by which
time Pakistan was churning out weapons-grade uranium for three years.

'India's N-centrifuge design came from A Q Khan'

A US arms control expert has claimed that Pakistan's notorious nuclear
scientist A Q Khan may have passed on nuclear technology to India,
citing newspaper ads in 2006 requisitioning centrifuge parts.

"India's enrichment program progressed slowly... In 2006 the
Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security
revealed that the Indian government had used newspaper ads to solicit
bids for centrifuge parts. The details of these advertisements, along
with documents Indians gave potential suppliers, provide strong clues
about where New Delhi's supercritical centrifuge technology came
from," Joshua Pollack said in a commentary in Playboy. "Despite some
changes, the design is recognizable to the trained eye: It almost
mirrors the G-2 centrifuge, a design Khan stole from URENCO in the
1970s and reproduced as Pakistan's P-2 centrifuge."

Pollack also says an engineering firm belonging to Gerhard Wisser, a
German in South Africa, in collaboration with Gotthard Lerch in
Switzerland, supplied specialized equipment to both Pakistan and its
proliferation partners, and starting in the late 1980s, to India too.

"Could Khan have been ignorant about Wisser's dealings with India? His
own guilty conscience says otherwise," Pollack conjectures, writing
that though Khan has never acknowledged having a fourth customer, he
gave his Pakistani interrogators at least two contradictory cover
stories that may explain how Pakistan's enrichment technology could
have ended up in "enemy hands".

At first, Khan seems to have suggested his overseas network (Lerch,
Wisser et al) was autonomous enough to supply both India and Pakistan.
But Khan later alleged he had been exploited by an Indian connection
who was hidden inside Farooq's Dubai operation. "Ironically," he cites
Musharraf's biography, "the network based in Dubai had employed
several Indians, some of whom have since vanished."

The idea that Khan would have wilfully sneaked knowhow to India is
far-fetched, considering he had a pathological hatred of the country
of his origin (he migrated to Pakistan from Bhopal). Both Musharraf
and Khan have been repeatedly exposed as bare-faced liars, but
Pakistani nationalists, in a bid to obfuscate the proliferation charge
against Islamabad, have long alleged that India too has been a
beneficiary of nuclear smuggling rings.

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