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A. Q. Khan concludes a deal with Gotthard Lerch, the sales manager of the German firm Leybold Heraeus, to purchase equipment he needs for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Khan knew of the company because it had supplied such equipment to the Dutch firm URENCO, with which Khan had worked previously. Khan is worried that Lerch might go to the authorities, but authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will say he need not have been: “Lerch was eager to do some deals on the side and began selling surreptitiously to Pakistan.” Lerch will be arrested by German customs authorities for these transactions in the early 1980s. It will be discovered that he has already sold Khan equipment worth DM 1.3 million (about $650,000), but he will not be convicted of any charges. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 41, 467]

Entity Tags: Catherine Scott-Clark, Gotthard Lerch, Adrian Levy, Leybold Heraeus

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan obtains 20 high-frequency inverters, a key piece of machinery for producing enriched uranium, from Europe. The inverters are ordered by a German contact called Ernst Piffl, based on Canadian literature apparently supplied by an associate of Khan’s named A. A. Khan. They are supplied by Emerson Industrial Controls, a British subsidiary of the US giant Emerson Electrical. Emerson had supplied the same equipment to a British nuclear plant, but does not raise the alarm over such equipment being shipped for Pakistan. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 53-54]

Entity Tags: Ernst Piffl, Emerson Industrial Controls, Abdul Aziz Khan, Abdul Qadeer Khan

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

The A. Q. Khan network that is attempting to build a nuclear weapon for Pakistan conducts procurement operations in Germany. The existence of the German activities at this time will be revealed in a letter from Khan to a correspondent, the Canada-based scientist A. A. Khan, dated June 13, 1978 and later obtained by Canadian authorities. The German operations involve the company Siemens and Gunes Cire, a Turkish associate of Khan’s. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 53]

Entity Tags: Abdul Qadeer Khan, Siemens, Gunes Cire

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad attacks a German man named Heinz Mebus, who is part of A. Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation network. The attack is in the form of a letter bomb, sent to Mebus’ home in Erlangen, West Germany. Mebus, who had helped build fluoride and uranium conversion plants for Pakistan in 1979, is not injured, but his dog is killed. This is part of a campaign by Mossad against Khan’s European associates (see Early 1981), and police soon link it to another similar attack (see February 20, 1981). [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 87]

Entity Tags: Heinz Mebus, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks (Mossad)

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

I. H. Khan, a procurement agent for Pakistan’s Special Works Organization (SWO) in Germany, sends two payments to the British-based company SR International. I. H. Khan, SWO, and SR International are all involved in procuring equipment in Europe for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. The payment in March is for £15,872.26 (roughly $36,000) and the payment in April is for £604.07 (roughly $1,370). Although the payments will be listed as “book debt” in a statement later issued by SR International’s liquidator, they may signify that SR International is continuing to provide nuclear-related equipment for Pakistan, although British authorities have been aware of its activities for several years (see 1978 and (Fall 1979)). [Armstrong and Trento, 2007, pp. 101]

Entity Tags: Ikran ul-Haq Khan, Special Works Organization, SR International

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

Some US officials become concerned over mounting indications that Pakistan is preparing for nuclear war due to a crisis with India (see January-May 1990). Several signs lead to this concern:
bullet Intelligence from Germany reports that the Pakistanis have designed a nuclear warhead that could be fitted under the wing of an F-16. In addition, the US finds that Pakistan has learned to program the plane’s in-flight computer system to provide the correct flight path for a nuclear-bomb run, and that it has stepped up its F-16 training to practice what seems to be the dropping of a nuclear bomb.
bullet The NSA intercepts a call from army chief Mirza Aslam Beg to the Khan Research Laboratories facility in Kahuta authorizing technicians to put together a nuclear device.
bullet A US spy satellite sees that thousands of workers are evacuated from the site in Kahuta, a key facility in Pakistan’s nuclear program. A US analyst will comment later, “We thought the reason for the evacuation of Kahuta was that they expected a retaliatory attack by India, in response to a Pakistani first strike.”
bullet The US detects high-explosive tests, an essential element of the nuclear weapons triggered process, being conducted near a suspected nuclear storage facility. The US finds that the facility has an unusually high degree of security and has also been visited by A. Q. Khan, head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
bullet Satellite and other intelligence produces signs that the weapons are actually being deployed—a truck convoy from the suspected facility to a nearby Air Force base with secure zones similar to those used by the US military when transporting nuclear weapons.
bullet The US then comes to believe the nuclear weapons have been loaded onto aircraft. The analyst will comment, “They had F-16s pre-positioned and armed for delivery—on full alert, with pilots in the aircraft.”
However, opinion is split in the US over the imminence of a possible nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. CIA officer Richard Kerr will comment: “There’s no question in my mind that we were right on the edge.… This period was very tense. The intelligence community believed that without some intervention the two parties could miscalculate—and miscalculation could lead to a nuclear exchange.” President George H. W. Bush sends National Security Council member Robert Gates to mediate between the two rivals (see May 1990). [New Yorker, 3/29/1993]

Entity Tags: Richard Kerr, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

An Iranian exile group says it has evidence that Iran is still enriching uranium and will continue to do so despite an agreement it signed pledging it to halt such activities. The group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), the political arm of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), also charges that in the mid-1990s, Iran bought the plans for a Chinese nuclear bomb from the global nuclear technology network led by Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan. Khan’s network sold the same type of bomb blueprint to Libya, which has renounced its nuclear ambitions (see December 2003). The NCRI’s Mohammed Mohaddessin says the Khan network also provided Iran with a small amount of highly enriched uranium, though the amount is too small to use for a weapon. While the NCRI provided information in 2002 that helped disclose Iran’s secret nuclear program, many of its subsequent allegations have been proven false.
Claims - Mohaddessin uses satellite photos to show what he says is a new nuclear facility inside Tehran’s Center for the Development of Advanced Defense Technology (CDADT). He says that the CDADT also houses chemical and biological weapons programs, and that Iran began enriching uranium at the site in early 2003. Mohaddessin refuses to provide any evidence for his claims, instead saying, “Our sources were 100 percent sure about their intelligence.” Those sources, he says, are scientists and other people working in the facilities, and local citizens living near the facilities who see what he calls suspicious activities.
Reaction - Many diplomats and arms control experts dismiss the NCRI’s claims, saying the claims are an attempt to undermine the recent agreement Tehran signed with Britain, France, and Germany to restrict its uranium enrichment program. In return, the agreement says, Iran can continue working on developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. [Washington Post, 11/18/2004]

Entity Tags: Mohammed Mohaddessin, People’s Mujahedin of Iran, National Council of Resistance of Iran, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Center for the Development of Advanced Defense Technology (Iran)

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

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