Pakistan’s nuclear black-market nailed in US indictment of 5 men
The five men named in the indictment that was unsealed in a US court on Wednesday are residents of Pakistan, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom and remain at large with outstanding warrants for their arrest, the US department of justice said. The indictments were handed out by a grand jury in October 2019.Updated: Jan 16, 2020 23:36 IST
The United States has indicted five men for illegally exporting US-origin goods to two Pakistani government agencies that are on America’s list of sanctioned entities for their ties to the country’s nuclear weapons programme, exposing, once again, Pakistan’s thriving nuclear black-market.
The five men named in the indictment that was unsealed in a US court on Wednesday are residents of Pakistan, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom and remain at large with outstanding warrants for their arrest, the US department of justice said. The indictments were handed out by a grand jury in October 2019.
“The defendants smuggled US origin goods to entities that have been designated for years as threats to US national security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programs,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in a statement.
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Their alleged actions also posed a threat to the “delicate balance of power among nations within the region”, said Jason Molina, the lead homeland security investigator, in a reference to the nuclear arms between India and Pakistan, the only two nuclear-armed countries in South Asia.
Using a front company, “Business World”, based in Rawalpindi, where the Pakistani military is headquartered, the indicted men are alleged to have supplied 38 shipments of these goods between September 2018 and October 2019 to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the top regulatory body, and the Advanced Engineering and Research Organization (AERO), both of whom have been on the US’s list of sanctioned entities since 1998 (for Pakistan’s nuclear tests carried out in response to India’s Pokhran II tests) and 2014 respectively.
The United States prohibits the export of certain goods to foreign entities it has declared as potentially dangerous for its national security without permission, a licence, which is invariably denied to them.
This indictment is yet another instance of Pakistan’s continued efforts to clandestinely and illegally build its nuclear programme, and sell to others in what has been called a “nuclear black-market”, in defiance of international laws and rules as it also seeks the membership of international bodies that seek to prevent this illegal trade, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), to keep up with India, which has a globally acknowledged impeccable record on non-proliferation.
In 2018, the United States had added seven Pakistani organizations to its export list of sanctioned entities, which was first reported by Hindustan Times.
The indicted men are Muhammad Kamran Wali of Pakistan; Muhammad Ahsan Wali and Haji Wali Muhammad Sheikh of Canada; Ashraf Khan Muhammad of Hong Kong; and Ahmed Waheed of the United Kingdom.