Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pakistan pressured to produce Khan – 'father of Islamic bomb'
With the U.S. giving Iran until June 29 to accept or reject a package of incentives to end its nuclear program and Tehran defiantly stepping up enrichment activities, pressure is building on Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to allow access to nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to discover what he knows about fresh traces of enriched uranium found on equipment used at an Iranian military site.

U.S. officials and U.N. inspectors believe Khan, the "father of the Islamic bomb," who remains under house arrest in Pakistan after confessing he had provided both Iran and North Korea with details of how to make their own nuclear bombs, has important information about Tehran's nuclear program.

In January, IAEA inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium, which could be weapons grade, in vacuum pumps at the destroyed and leveled Lavizan-Shian site in Tehran – a site Iran denied had been used for its nuclear work. The find casts further doubts on Iran's claims its program is intended only for peaceful purposes. READ MORE

According to a previous IAEA report, Iran has made 110 tons of feedstock gas, enough for 20 nuclear bombs if the entire amount was enriched. The Iranians claim to have only enriched "dozens of grams" of uranium so far.

Despite pressure from Washington, Musharraf continues to resist pressure to let Khan be questioned by anyone. According to the Sunday London Telegraph, some believe Khan could implicate senior military and government figures if details of his nuclear network were known.

Pakistan has attempted to deflect pressure from the U.S. by declaring the case against Khan "closed." All 12 of his associates, arrested on suspicion of involvement in Khan's proliferation scheme, have been released by the government.

As WorldNetDaily reported
, MI6, Britain's secret intelligence service, has identified six Pakistani scientists, who previously worked for Khan and are now working in Iran's nuclear bomb program, who have been "advising al-Qaida on how to weaponize fissionable materials it has now obtained."

MI6 and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe the scientists have played a major role in enabling Iran to be "well advanced in providing uranium enriched materials for nuclear bombs," said Alexander Cirilovic, a nuclear terrorism expert in Paris.

Given the stakes, the discovery of highly enriched uranium in Iran and the U.S. deadline, access to Khan is seen as crucial.

"They want to squeeze Dr. Khan to use his statements as evidence for the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Security Council," said Gen. Hameed Gul, the former head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. "Support from Beijing and Moscow would only be possible if the U.S. is able to provide ample evidence, and Dr. Khan's words could be instrumental."