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Monday, December 06, 2004

You Never Know Until You Ask 

Let's face it: he didn't get to be "the most dangerous man alive" by volunteering information on his black-market nuclear arms ring. From the L.A. Times, via our distinguished colleagues at Cursor:
The global investigation into Abdul Qadeer Khan's black market trade in nuclear technology has stalled in a clash of national interests that threatens a full accounting of his secret partners and clients, according to interviews with diplomats and officials from several countries.

International authorities fear the full scope of the Pakistani scientist's ring may never be known.

Senior investigators said they were especially worried that dangerous elements of the illicit network of manufacturers and suppliers would remain undetected and capable of resuming operations once international pressures eased.

Investigators also said that records obtained in Libya and elsewhere showed that some nuclear equipment purchased or manufactured by the network had yet to be found, raising the possibility that it was diverted to still unidentified customers.

"We are far from knowing everything," a senior European diplomat involved in the inquiry said. "I'm frustrated by the lack of cooperation. We are losing a lot of time."

Some countries have refused to help, and others have only partially cooperated, said numerous officials involved in the inquiry spearheaded by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.

Pakistan has not permitted investigators to interview Khan, and his closest confidant is being held in Malaysia under that country's restrictive security act. Investigators also are concerned about the level of cooperation of former Soviet republics and China.

Investigators have suffered setbacks and delays even as they have gathered new evidence of the network's sophistication and have documented its move into Dubai, an ancient smuggling port on the Persian Gulf. Dubai was the hub of Khan's covert distribution operation, a transportation and storage base for parts and machinery destined for the secret nuclear programs in Iran and Libya, shipping records and investigation files show.
But that's okay; it was worth it to let Khan walk. Otherwise his good buddy Pervez Musharref would never have caught Osama bin Laden before the election.

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