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Iran, Pakistan active in nuke black market

THE IRANIAN government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb, according to the latest western intelligence assessmey's weapons programmes.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 01:36 IST

THE IRANIAN government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb, according to the latest western intelligence assessmey's weapons programmes.

The 55-page intelligence assessment, dated July 1, 2005 (and seen by the Guardian) concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programmes and to enrich uranium.
About Pakistan, the report says, "Since the beginning of 2004 extensive procurement efforts for the Pakistani nuclear sector have been registered."

Furthermore, the range of materials and components being bought "clearly exceeds" that required for spare parts and replacements in Islamabad's nuclear programme.

The world's biggest clandestine nuclear proliferation racket, centred around Pakistan's Abdul Qadeer Khan was exposed over two years ago. Yet Khan's power base outside Islamabad, the Khan Research Laboratories, remain a central institution in the Pakistani nuclear programme, according to the document, served by an array of front companies who are past masters at disguising the real "end users" for the components and equipment they purchase in western Europe.

Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with "import requests and acquisitions ... registered almost daily", the report concludes.

The warning came as Iran raised the stakes in its dispute with the US and the European Union on Tuesday by notifying the International Atomic Energy Authority that it intended to resume nuclear fuel research next week.

The detailed assessment of Iran's nuclear purchasing programme will alarm western leaders, who have long refused to believe Tehran's insistence that it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons and is trying only to develop nuclear power for electricity. Governments in the west and elsewhere have also been dismayed by recent pronouncements from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said that Holocaust denial is a "scientific debate" and that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 01:36 IST