Monday, January 28, 2008

The Islamic Bomb, Part 4

It is worth reviewing some old news to learn some new things.

Normally, I pick one article and reproduce it in its entirety. However, in this post, I present excerpts from different sources. Consequently, please pay attention to which source is being worked with; also, please note the date of each item quoted as we skip around. (This will be good practice for upcoming posts!)

From an article from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies entitled Proliferation Unbound: Nuclear Tales from Pakistan by Gaurav Kampani, February 23, 2004:

After years of blanket denials, Pakistan's government has finally admitted that during 1989-2003 Pakistani nuclear scientists and entities proliferated nuclear weapons-related technologies, equipment, and know how to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. The Pakistani government's denials collapsed after Libya formally decided to terminate its clandestine weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in October 2003 and make a full disclosure of its efforts to build nuclear weapons; and after Iran, in fall 2003, agreed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and provide details of its clandestine uranium enrichment programs that originated in the mid-1980s.

Notice: "The Pakistani government's denials collapsed...."

So, Libya and Iran decided to come clean, and have helped us piece together what is happening.

This happened in late 2003, after Iraq had been invaded earlier that year, a major reason for the invasion given as Iraq's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Was that an influencing factor? Iran was listed among the Axis of Evil, but Libya was not.

The Iranian and Libyan revelations have exposed a vast black market in clandestine nuclear trade comprising of middle men and shell companies; clandestine procurement techniques; false end-user certifications; transfer of blueprints from one country, manufacture in another, transshipment to a third, before delivery to its final destination. But even more remarkably, the investigations of Iranian and Libyan centrifuge-based uranium enrichment efforts have exposed the central role of the former head of Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Dr. A.Q. Khan, in the clandestine trade. Detailed information has surfaced about transfers of technical drawings, design specifications, components, complete assemblies of Pakistan's P-1 and P-2 centrifuge models, including the blueprint of an actual nuclear warhead from KRL. But the transfer of hardware apart, there is equally damning evidence that Khan and his top associates imparted sensitive knowledge and know how in secret technical briefings for Iranian, North Korean, and Libyan scientists in Pakistan and other locations abroad.

The blueprints for actual nuclear weapons! Cool!!

Notice how it was done -- everything in the shadows, hard to trace.

Recall: "The Pakistani government's denials collapsed...."

Supposedly, this A. Q. Khan network was doing this despite Pakistani government policy. Why would Islamabad be denying it until witnesses came forward, instead of investigating at the first hint of trouble?

We now go to a Washington Post story entitled Libyan Arms Designs Traced Back to China from a few days earlier:

Pakistanis Resold Chinese-Provided Plans

By Joby Warrick and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 15, 2004; Page A01

Investigators have discovered that the nuclear weapons designs obtained by Libya through a Pakistani smuggling network originated in China, exposing yet another link in a chain of proliferation that stretched across the Middle East and Asia, according to government officials and arms experts.

The bomb designs and other papers turned over by Libya have yielded dramatic evidence of China's long-suspected role in transferring nuclear know-how to Pakistan in the early 1980s, they said. The Chinese designs were later resold to Libya by a Pakistani-led trading network that is now the focus of an expanding international probe, added the officials and experts, who are based in the United States and Europe.

The packet of documents, some of which included text in Chinese, contained detailed, step-by-step instructions for assembling an implosion-type nuclear bomb that could fit atop a large ballistic missile. They also included technical instructions for manufacturing components for the device, the officials and experts said.

"It was just what you'd have on the factory floor. It tells you what torque to use on the bolts and what glue to use on the parts," one weapons expert who had reviewed the blueprints said in an interview. He described the designs as "very, very old" but "very well engineered."

A how-to-build-a-nuke manual, with information on how to torque the bolts and what kind of glue to use! The only hard part was: the instructions were in Chinese!

U.S. intelligence officials concluded years ago that China provided early assistance to Pakistan in building its first nuclear weapon -- assistance that appeared to have ended in the 1980s. Still, weapons experts familiar with the blueprints expressed surprise at what they described as a wholesale transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to another country. Notes included in the package of documents suggest that China continued to mentor Pakistani scientists on the finer points of bomb-building over a period of several years, the officials said.

China's actions "were irresponsible and short-sighted, and raise questions about what else China provided to Pakistan's nuclear program," said David Albright, a nuclear physicist and former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq. "These documents also raise questions about whether Iran, North Korea and perhaps others received these documents from Pakistanis or their agents."

So A. Q. Khan's network funneled technology -- including detailed blueprints and how-to manuals on nuclear bomb-building -- from China to countries like Iran and Libya.

"China's actions 'were irresponsible and short-sighted, and raise questions about what else China provided to Pakistan's nuclear program,'...."

The package of documents was turned over to U.S. officials in November following Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction and open his country's weapons laboratories to international inspection. The blueprints, which were flown to Washington last month, have been analyzed by experts from the United States, Britain and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

And Libya's Gaddafi is our hero for ratting these guys out?

How times have changed!

Back to Proliferation Unbound: Nuclear Tales from Pakistan:

Three decades ago, Khan, with the support of Pakistan's government, set out to create a new model of proliferation. He used centrifuge design blueprints and supplier lists of companies that he had pilfered from URENCO's facility in the Netherlands to launch Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In the process, he perfected a clandestine model of trade in forbidden technologies outside formal government controls. By the end of the 1980s, after KRL acquired the wherewithal to produce highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapons program, it reversed course and began vending its services to other clients in the international system. KRL and Khan's first client was Iran (or possibly China even earlier); but the list gradually expanded to include North Korea and Libya. Starting in the late 1980s, Khan and some of his top associates began offering a one-stop shop for countries that wished to acquire nuclear technologies for a weapons program. Khan's key innovation was to integrate what was earlier a disaggregated market place for such technologies, design, engineering, and consultancy services; and in the process offer clients the option of telescoping the time required to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

"Three decades ago, Khan, with the support of Pakistan's government, set out to create a new model of proliferation."

By telescoping development time, they mean shortening the time needed -- dramatically!

For example, one technology needed is how to purify fissile materials. Another is how to compress a fissile mass so it achieves supercritical density, which yields a runaway chain reaction. This is often done explosively, so explosives technology is needed, too. Other technologies are needed, as well.

It is true that many of these technologies would be developing simultaneously, but a change regarding one may drive another to move in a whole new direction. Consequently, any delay in any one technology could hold up the production of the entire weapon.

Now, however, thanks to A. Q. Khan, critical technology, know-how and even components could be bought from KRL Nuke Supplies, so there is no longer a need for delays. With enough money, you can buy not just the appropriate components, but even blueprints to put them together -- although you may need consultants to translate the instructions from Chinese for your technicians!

From a March, 2005, paper entitled New Players on the Scene: A.Q. Khan and the Nuclear Black Market by Colonel Charles D. Lutes, USAF:

Current nonproliferation regimes "may be inadequate to deal with the emerging threat of non-state proliferation" that Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan represents, according to U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles D. Lutes.


A Nuclear Marketplace

The godfather of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, A.Q. Khan is a legendary and celebrated figure in his country for his years of secretive work in developing the first "Islamic bomb" to counter the threat from long-time rival India.

As a scientist working for the Dutch Urenco firm in the 1970s, Khan had access to blueprints for uranium enrichment technology, which he stole and brought back to Pakistan when he returned home.

Khan was appointed by then-Pakistani Prime Minister Ali Bhutto to run Pakistan's nuclear-research program, with the goal of countering India's nuclear aspirations with a weapon of its own. Running counter to the nonproliferation norms of the international community, Khan was forced to pursue this goal with the utmost secrecy. However, Pakistan's indigenous scientific and engineering infrastructure was underdeveloped for the task. So Khan did what any good entrepreneur would do: he outsourced.

He cultivated a network of suppliers and manufacturers, many of whom did not realize the ultimate objective of the science project undertaken at the Khan Research Laboratories. By 1998, however, there was no doubt. To the surprise of the international community, Pakistan completed five underground nuclear tests and joined an elite club of nuclear weapon states.

For A.Q. Khan, the patriotic fervor surrounding this achievement was only the beginning. A shrewd businessman, he saw potential for financial gain between his network of suppliers and a burgeoning market for nuclear arms. North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya were foremost on a list of those at least window-shopping for such capability.

An ongoing investigation reveals that the Khan network played a significant role, beginning in the early 1990s, in the development of Iranian and North Korean enrichment technology. In exchange, North Korea appears to have shared its ballistic missile technology with Pakistan.

One key point here is that the movement of technology, components and know-how was not along a one-way street; it was more like an exchange, with some things moving one way, and other things moving the other way.

A case in point is North Korea's ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang got nuclear know-how, but Pakistan got missile technology.

If Pakistan got missile technology from North Korea, and we know Khan's network got nuclear weapons technology (including blueprints for bombs) from China, might it stand to reason that Khan's network got other kinds of technology from China? Might China have gotten access to F-16 technology from Pakistan?

Picking up later on in Colonel Lutes' paper:

Supply Always Meets Demand

Now that A.Q. Khan is under house arrest in Pakistan, but unavailable to Western authorities for interrogation, vexing questions remain. It is clear that Khan met with, and possibly sold components to, officials in a number of nuclear-aspiring states. Ongoing investigation has linked Khan to nuclear programs in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Additionally, published reports have identified Khan meetings with potential customers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kuwait, Myanmar, and Abu Dhabi. The wider the spread of this dangerous knowledge and expertise, the greater the opportunity exists for terrorists or criminals to become armed with a nuclear bomb.

Clearly, al-Qaida and its affiliates are in the market for nuclear weapons. On the one hand, Khan's far-flung conglomeration of shady manufacturers, unsavory middlemen, and illicit traffickers seems the ideal supplier to meet the terrorist demand for nuclear arms. Its loosely coupled network mirrors the cellular structure favored by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists. This structure facilitates surreptitious and relatively untraceable transactions among those who wish to wreak catastrophic violence.

On the other hand, in considering the terrorist link it is important to look at the wares that Khan and his cronies offered for sale. Primarily, Khan purveyed the necessary materiel for a state nuclear program: centrifuge components and designs, weapons blueprints, and technical expertise. There are no published reports of Khan dealing in nuclear fissile material itself, the final product of the enrichment process that fuels a nuclear weapon.

Presumably terrorists would prefer to purchase a finished weapon or, at a minimum, the fissile material, as they likely have little ability or patience to develop a program infrastructure. To a terrorist, then, dealing with Khan would be tantamount to asking for AK-47s and bullets, and instead receiving steel, metal casts and molds, and a fabrication instruction manual.

As much damage as the black market may have done in bringing North Korea and Iran closer to membership in the nuclear club, the present danger lies in how the supplier network adapts now that Khan is no longer at the helm.

Although President Bush has stated that Khan's network has been shut down, it remains possible that parts of it may have just burrowed more deeply underground. While it is unlikely that Khan Research Laboratories will engage in any further black market activity, it remains to be seen what will become of its associates.

Just as terrorist networks re-form and adapt, so too can the supplier network. The predominant commodity will be the knowledge base and expertise resident in the remaining supplier nodes. Cut off from Khan's access to the rogue state market, a new network of nuclear scientists and engineers may coalesce around the terrorist market.

To the extent that these profiteers may have any access to fissile material or even a finished weapon, the risk of proliferation to terrorists increases exponentially. Unfortunately in the case of terrorist actors, unlike state actors, possessing a nuclear weapon probably has only one purpose: for detonation into a visible mushroom cloud.

Just like Al Qaeda morphed and is now somewhat harder to track in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan, so has Khan's network presumably morphed in the aftermath of its "closing down".

The concern is that it has a great deal of profitable momentum, supplying goods and services that are in great demand to people who have a great deal of money.

Logically, then, it is not shut down, but rather is just harder to track, and now more tailored as a supplier to meet the demands of its most likely customers -- Islamic terrorists.

Returning now to Libyan Arms Designs Traced Back to China for some excerpts near the end:

As for who delivered the material to the Libyans, a European official who has studied the question said the connection to the Khan network was indirect. "The middleman is quite invisible. The middleman has covered his tracks very well."


"Did the Chinese make a huge mistake in sharing technology with Pakistan? Sure. Did we make a mistake by looking the other way in the 1980s when Pakistan was developing the bomb? Yes," Wolfsthal said. "But none of that should get in the way of dealing with the real threats we face today. Our priority must be to drain the swamp created by the action of these nuclear suppliers and businessmen over the past 10 years."

Keep in mind, these reports are three to four years old.

Also keep in mind that the Able Danger program, when datamining open-source material for intelligence on Al Qaeda, connected Condoleeza Rice to Chinese proliferation. In Information Dominance, Part 4, we see the part of the Congressional record where that came up, and in Part 9, we look at that again.

This is everything Sibel Edmonds has been gagged about -- the international arms black market, where even nuclear secrets are for sale.

Our world is threatened by entities from the Shadow Realm, a world where big terror, big narcotics, big business and big politics hold nothing sacred -- a world into which a "lowly" translator, Sibel Edmonds, caught a peek, tried to go through channels to warn our government about what she saw, and has been gagged for her efforts. Now held in limbo by the Shadow Realm for a sixth year, Edmonds is an embattled American hero on a par with the very best the United States has to offer -- and on a par with the very best her native nation of Turkey has to offer, as well!

Stay tuned to Stop Islamic Conquest, as future posts examine 1) the connection between US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the intelligence apparatus of Communist China's People's Liberation Army, 2) the illegal proliferation of critical US military technology to Communist China, and 3) the role of parties based in Riyadh, Dubai and other places in the proliferation not just of nuclear weapons technology, but of the means to actually deliver Islamic bombs to their infidel targets.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

You might want to read Allah's Bomb: The Islamic Quest for Nuclear Weapons. It goes into great detail on the spread of nuclear information and materials, including the A.Q. Kan network. It's really amazing.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth