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Report Suggests Smugglers
Compromised Nuclear Files

June 16, 2008

The Washington Post recently reported that an international smuggling ring might have secretly shared blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon with Iran, North Korea and other rogue countries.

The now-defunct ring led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (widely regarded as the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program). Khan earlier has admitted to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea. But now, denies involvement with the spread of nuclear arms to those countries.

A draft report by former top U.N. arms inspector David Albright says the smugglers also acquired designs for building a more sophisticated compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a ballistic missile used by Iran and other developing countries, the Post reported.

The drawings were discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen; they were recently destroyed by the Swiss government under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to keep then out of terrorists' hands. But U.N. officials said they couldn't rule out that the material already had been shared.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in the draft report, which was expected to be published later this week, The Post reported.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Nadeen Kiani, did not rebut the report's findings. "The government of Pakistan has adequately investigated allegations of nuclear proliferation by A.Q. Khan and shared the information with" the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, Kiani told the Post. "It considers the A.Q. Khan affair to be over."

U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley said he had not read accounts of the Albright report, "But obviously we're very concerned about the A.Q. Khan network, both in terms of what they were doing by purveying enrichment technology and also the possibility that there would be weapons-related technology associated with it."

A senior diplomat said the IAEA had knowledge of the existence of a sophisticated nuclear weapons design being peddled electronically by the black-market ring as far back as 2005. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity.