Neighbourly nuclear help

Purveying of nuclear technology to the Axis of Evil

In its latest report the IAEA concludes that Iran acquired its nuclear technology and materials from Pakistan.

Though the report does not cite the source of the purchase, it is now known to have come from the laboratories of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb. Pakistan’s government has argued that it had no knowledge of Dr. Khan’s clandestine activities, which included sales to Libya and North Korea starting about the same time.

“What Iran got came almost entirely from one country,” said a senior international diplomat who had been briefed on the findings. “And it seems to point directly back to Pakistan’s own laboratories.”

The origin of the equipment is especially important because Iran is trying to explain why some samples of uranium taken by the agency show that it has been enriched far beyond the levels needed to produce nuclear power, though a little short of the usual purity for bomb fuel. In the report, the agency says that its studies indicate that it is “plausible” that some of the samples it took in Iran had been contaminated by equipment that was previously used elsewhere, presumably in Pakistan.

If it is true, it would help lift suspicion that Iran was already producing uranium suitable for arms. But agency officials are still suspicious that some of the uranium could have been produced elsewhere in Iran, at plants they have yet to discover. [NYT]

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