Khan the Centrifugist arrested

Certain “unspecified restrictions” have been imposed on nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan following continuing investigations by the government into alleged links between some Pakistani scientists and Iran.

Daily Times has learnt that the movement of Dr Qadeer, who established Khan Research Laboratories at Kahuta, has been restricted and he is being “debriefed”. These restrictions follow the earlier detention and debriefing of two nuclear scientists under investigation.Daily Times

Finally Khan the Centrifugist has been taken into custody on the orders of no less an authority as Musharraf himself. Obviously, as the Daily Times reports, Musharraf was pained to see how individuals had traded national secrets for purely financial motives.

The arrest of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is more important to international security than that of Saddam Hussein. It was Khan who built a complex web of nuclear component, covert procurement and expertise and commoditized them for sale at the appropriate price. If he is ‘debriefed’ properly, a lot of skeletons are likely to be found in the cupboards. The United States has to show enough resolve to use this opportunity to curb one of the most virulent strains of nuclear proliferation. But Khan has been elevated to a demi-god status by the Pakistani establishment, and bringing him down will cause great tension. Expect the MMA to make this a major issue.

Related Links: Daily Times editorial on what this means for Pakistan

Those centrifuges again

New questions about Pakistan’s role have also been raised by Libya’s decision on Friday to reveal and dismantle its unconventional weapons, including centrifuges and thousands of centrifuge parts. A senior American official said this weekend that Libya had shown visiting American and British intelligence officials “a relatively sophisticated model of centrifuge,” which can be used to enrich uranium for bomb fuel.
There are also investigations under way to determine if Pakistani technology has spread elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia, but so far the evidence involves largely the exchange of scientists with countries including Myanmar. There have been no confirmed reports of additional technology transfers, intelligence officials say New York Times

Semantics – He’s only being ‘debriefed’

Foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan told Reuters that questions were being put to Dr Khan in connection with “debriefings” of several scientists working at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).

“He is too eminent a scientist to undergo a normal debriefing session,” the spokesman said. “However, some questions have been raised with him in relation to the ongoing debriefing sessions.”

The spokesman denied a report that Dr Khan had been placed under restriction as part of the investigation. “He is not under arrest, he is not under detention, he is under no restriction,” he said.

However, several intelligence sources said the scientist had not been allowed to either receive visitors at his home in Islamabad or leave it since the probe had begun last week.

“It is routine matter,” said one of the sources, who did not want to be identified. “We are debriefing every nuclear scientist, so Dr Qadeer is facing the same formality.” One intelligence official said the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had taken part in the questioning. Dawn