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August 24, 2005
Musharraf: Khan Supplied NoKos With Centrifuges, Designs

Confirming the suspicions of many in the West, Pakistan's leader Pervez Musharraf stated for the record that Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan gave centrifuges and their designs to the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo:

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf has confirmed that disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan provided North Korea with centrifuge machines and their designs, Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.

Khan, revered in Pakistan as the man who gave his country the weapons capability to balance that of nuclear-armed neighbour and rival India, admitted last year to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. ...

Asked about reports that Pakistan told Japanese government officials that Khan had given North Korea about 20 centrifuges, Musharraf was quoted as saying: "Yes, he passed centrifuges -- parts and complete. I do not exactly remember the number."

The leap in development of Pyongyang's nuclear work surprised the Bush administration during its first term, when the Kim regime first revealed that it had created nuclear weapons. At the time, people made an assumption that Kim had bargained for the technology. Musharraf has confirmed that Khan admitted to the transactions with North Korea's dictator in his first public statements about the Khan network. Khan's admission came last year, but it hardly comes as a shock. Khan made himself a popular man in the tyrant market, supplying such luminaries as Moammar Gaddafi, the Iranian mullahs, and perhaps others less bound by state boundaries; we may never know for certain how many people wound up with Khan centrifuges.

The Pakistani president tried to minimize the issue by arguing that Khan didn't transmit instructions for nuclear-weapons engineering, but just to enrich the uranium that could constitute the fissile material. However, that part causes the greatest difficulty. Most of the knowledge necessary to engineer a weapon can be found in libraries and readily-available books, even on the Internet as long as one knows where to look. Getting fissile material in sufficient quantities was the greater obstacle, and Khan helped Kim leap over it much sooner than expected.

Musharraf can't possibly believe his own rhetoric on this point, and indications show he doesn't. Despite his current status as a "hero" in Pakistan, Dr. Khan is not permitted to leave his house in the Pakistani capital. Musharraf apparently wants to keep a close eye on this "hero", to make sure that Khan doesn't get generous with his heroics towards the wrong people.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 24, 2005 10:00 PM

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