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'Pak N-chief smuggled devices from Canada'

A US think-tank has alleged that Anwar Ali was involved in at least one 1980 nuclear-related smuggling operation in Canada.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 16:19 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Anwar Ali, the new chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), was involved in at least one 1980 nuclear-related smuggling operation in Canada, a US defence think-tank has alleged.

The operation in which Ali participated led to the arrest of three men, according to a report done for the Pentagon-linked Defence Threat Reduction Agency and published by "WMD Insights" this month.

The study is based on Canadian court papers describing early activities in support of the Pakistani nuclear weapons procurement programme, the Daily Times reported from Washington.

A Wall Street Journal investigation in 1984, based on court documents and interviews with Canadian officials, stated that in July 1980 two members of the PAEC came to Montreal in secret with a shopping list consisting of vital parts for Pakistan's fledgling effort to become a nuclear power, the study said.

According to court records, the two Pakistan officials were Ali and Imtiaz Ahmed Bhatty, who brought with them a list of parts required for a high-frequency inverter.

The electrical device is used to spin a gas centrifuge at extremely high speeds to enrich uranium.

The parts were bought from the manufacturers by two small electrical equipment stores in Montreal, according to the court papers.

Then they were repackaged and shipped to the Middle East (and on to Pakistan).

Ali and Bhatty were not among the three individuals arrested and charged with acquiring the parts pursuant to instructions from the two PAEC officials.

Two of the three were fined $3,000 each on a minor technical charge. The third individual was acquitted because "rigid rules against hearsay evidence left (prosecutors) unable to explain what Messrs Ali and Bhatty ... really do for the government of Pakistan".

The study described Ali, appointed to the top nuclear post in March this year, as the most senior scientist at the organisation, where he has served for 39 years.

During that time, he played a central role in the creation of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and solid-fuelled missile programmes.

A physicist by training, Ali has had career assignments that include working at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), where he served as one of the directors and carried out work of "fundamental significance", according to APP news agency.

The report quoted Pakistani press accounts stating that Ali is credited with the development of computer codes and ultra-precision equipment for the nuclear programme.

He also played a key role in the formative years of the National Defence Complex (NDC) in developing guidance and control systems for the Shaheen-I missile.

He served as a member of the technical team of scientists and engineers who carried out the 1998 nuclear tests at the Ras Koh hills in Chagai.

The study cited a Pakistani electronic bulletin board, "generally regarded as credible and having retired Pakistani officials and military figures", stating that Ali was one of the pioneers of the PAEC's Uranium Enrichment Project-706 (KRL) along with Bashiruddin Mahmood.

He played a key role in the procurement and setting up of vital equipment for KRL.

Once AQ Khan took over KRL, Ali came back to PAEC and played a key role in the Directorate of Technical Development, which was charged with the R&D, design, manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons.

First Published: May 23, 2006 13:11 IST