Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is sometimes referred to as the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, is now making news regarding nuclear proliferation.
Last month, Dawn received a copy of the pamphlet purportedly distributed by A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories, offering vacuum technology for sale. The distributors said the technology can also be used in nuclear plants and thus the offer can be interpreted as promoting nuclear technology.
The pamphlet has a Rawalpindi address, P.O. Box 502, and has pictures of the equipment it promotes. It also has a picture of Dr Khan on the extreme right corner wearing the medals awarded by the government of Pakistan.
A message distributed with the pamphlet says: “Besides manufacturing of vacuum components and systems, our vacuum consultancy services are also available for system design, operational troubleshooting, quality assurance, maintenance, system development and human resource training.”
The distributors of the pamphlet seemed particularly concerned about the offer of “human resource training” because they claimed it was offering to train people for making a key component of a nuclear plant.
From the Los Angeles Times,
If one man sits at the nuclear fulcrum of the three countries President Bush calls the “axis of evil,” it may well be Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The 66-year-old metallurgist is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. He is a national hero at home, where hospitals bear his name and children sing his praises. U.S. and other Western officials do not. They say Khan is the only scientist known to be linked to the alleged efforts of North Korea, Iraq and Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
“If the international community had a proliferation most-wanted list, A. Q. Khan would be most wanted on the list,” said Robert J. Einhorn, who was assistant secretary of State for nonproliferation in the Clinton administration.
U.S. intelligence long has known of Khan’s activities. But the extent of his ties to all three “axis” nations became public only recently as North Korea admitted resuming its nuclear weapons effort, satellite photos showed that Iran may be conducting clandestine nuclear work and Khan’s name appeared in a letter offering to “manufacture a nuclear weapon” for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Pakistan denies giving nuclear assistance to other countries and insists that Khan has done no wrong. But under intense U.S. pressure, President Pervez Musharraf abruptly removed Khan as head of nuclear weapons development two years ago. Bush administration officials, wary of undermining a partner in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism, publicly downplay concerns about Islamabad’s possible role in spreading nuclear knowledge.
[…]Khan, with graying wavy hair and a salt-and-pepper mustache, has shrugged off charges that he is a nuclear Johnny Appleseed. Instead, he portrays himself as a scientist, a patriot — and a pacifist.
“Some people have the impression that because I built a nuclear bomb, I’m some sort of cruel person,” he told a Pakistani journalist in 2001. “That’s not the case. I built a weapon of peace, which seems hard to understand until you realize Pakistan’s nuclear capability is a deterrent to aggressors. There has not been a war in the last 30 years, and I don’t expect one in the future. The stakes are too high.”
Unlike two other senior Pakistani nuclear scientists who were questioned by U.S. and Pakistani authorities in 2001 after meetings with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, Khan is not an Islamic radical.
“He is not a fundamentalist, though he is nationalist — and sometimes nationalism and religion get mixed up in Pakistan,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, an anti-nuclear activist and MIT-trained physicist who teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. “He has been in it for the power, the money and the glory.”
Khan has received all three. When he ran Pakistan’s bomb-building program, he reported directly to the nation’s leader and had free-flowing funds at his disposal. U.S. officials say Khan owns several palatial residences. And he is revered not only at home, where he is hailed for putting Pakistan on an equal nuclear footing with rival India, but also in much of the Muslim world, where he is lionized as the man who built the “Islamic bomb.”
I hope the Pakistani government and A.Q. Khan have more sense than that. But I am not exactly sure what to think of the LA Times report.