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Pak atomic chief also an N-thief

Earlier AQ Khan, architect of Pak's N-programme, was charged with illegally selling N-tech, writes S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 10:55 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

The new chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Anwar Ali, has been linked to "at least one smuggling operation" in Canada. He reportedly tried to obtain specialised equipment for Pakistan's uranium-enrichment programme in 1980.

A report, written by non-proliferation specialists Leonard S Spector and Haider Nizamani for the Pentagon-linked Defense Threat Reduction Agency, cites Canadian court papers that "note the participation of Anwar Ali" in the smuggling operation that led to the arrest of three men.

Earlier AQ Khan, the disgraced architect of Pakistan's nuclear programme, had been accused of illegally selling nuclear technology.

Ali, who had worked under Khan, was elevated as PAEC chairman in March.

The Spector-Nizamani report also refers to an investigation in The Wall Street Journal in 1984 which said Ali and another PAEC official, IA Bhatty, had come to Montreal in July 1980 "in secret with a high-priority shopping list: vital parts of Pakistan's fledgling effort to become a nuclear power".

The list included a key item embargoed by the US and others -- a high-frequency inverter to spin a gas centrifuge at extremely high speed to enrich uranium. The parts were bought from various manufacturers, including General Electric.

According to the court papers, the purchases were made by two electrical equipment stores in Montreal. They were then shipped to West Asia and on to Pakistan.

The trio who had been arrested were charged with acquiring the parts on instructions from Ali and Bhatty. While two of them were fined $3,000, the third was acquitted.

First Published: May 25, 2006 01:49 IST