A Swiss man suspected of involvement in the world's biggest nuclear smuggling ring claims he supplied the CIA with inside information that led to the breakup of the black market network led by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
In a documentary scheduled to air Thursday evening on Swiss TV station SF1, Urs Tinner says he tipped off US intelligence about a delivery of centrifuge parts to build nuclear weapons in Libya. The shipment was seized at the Italian port of Taranto in 2003, forcing Libya to admit and eventually renounce its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
The 43-year-old Tinner is suspected, along with his brother Marco and father, Friedrich, of supplying Khan's clandestine network with technical know-how and equipment that was used to make gas centrifuges. Khan — creator of Pakistan’s atomic bomb — sold the centrifuges to countries for secret nuclear weapons programs, including Libya and Iran, before his operation was disrupted in 2003.
Tinner was freed by Swiss authorities last month after almost five years in investigative detention and he has yet to be charged. Tinner’s account echoes that in the book The Nuclear Jihadist, by US investigative reporters Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins.
Frantz says that based on interviews with well-placed sources within the US intelligence community, Urs Tinner was recruited by the CIA as early as 2000.