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Source Gives Details of Black-Market
Nuclear Program

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
February 20, 2004

Pakistani scientist and father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan sold nuclear weapons-making equipment to Iran for $3 million and had enriched uranium shipped to Libya for its atomic program, said police, citing the alleged financier of an international trafficking network.

In the first inside account of the black-market nuclear program, Buhary Syed Abu Tahir told Malaysian police that Khan asked him to send two containers of used centrifuge parts from Pakistan to Iran in 1994 or 1995. Tahir also said Libya received enriched uranium from Pakistan in 2001, police said.

Officers have been questioning Mr. Tahir, a Sri Lankan businessman living in Malaysia, over his role in Dr. Khan's network. Tahir also said Libya received enriched uranium from Pakistan in 2001.

A report released by police provides a detailed account of the network headed by Khan, who confessed earlier this month to leaking nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Police said the 12-page report on Tahir's Malaysian connections will be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna, Austria-based U.N. organization that oversees the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Malaysian authorities insist that they will cooperate if the IAEA seeks further action.

Tahir told Malaysian authorities he organized the shipment of two containers of centrifuge parts from Dubai to Iran aboard an Iranian merchant ship, the report says. Centrifuges are machines that can enrich uranium for weapons and other purposes.

"Payment for the two containers of centrifuge units, amounting to about $3 million," was paid by an unnamed Iranian, the report said.

Tahir said Khan told him "a certain amount" of enriched uranium was flown to Libya from Pakistan on a Pakistani airliner in 2001, and a "certain number" of centrifuges were flown to Libya direct from Pakistan in 2001-02, the report said.

Malaysian officials said earlier that Tahir broke no Malaysian laws, but they would keep him under surveillance.

He is a former business associate of Kamaluddin Abdullah, the son of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who promised the police investigation would be conducted "without fear or favor."

A Malaysian company controlled by Kamaluddin, Scomi Precision Engineering, a company established by Tahir and his brother, has acknowledged making 14 "semifinished components" which may amount to thousands of parts for a Dubai-based company, Gulf Technical Industries, under a contract negotiated by Tahir. They were seized in October while being shipped from Dubai to Libya.

Authorities say the parts were for centrifuges, but Scomi says it did not know what the parts were for.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar complained that his nation has been unfairly singled out by the United States in calling for a crackdown on the international nuclear black market.

"Malaysia should not be dragged into the debate of being a country that is involved in the supply of components or otherwise for weapons of mass destruction," Sayed Hamid said. "We have no capability." He went on to say that most nuclear weapons came from Europe and the United States.