Sunday, June 15, 2008

Swiss government reports on and destroys nuclear weapon blueprints; trail back to A.Q. Khan


I seem to recall a grade school book report on a children’s novel about, of all things, a smuggling ring. This activity was happening on a global and international scale with nuclear weapons parts and now, we learn, computer drawn blueprints (similar to those used by architects as for the imaging technology). These files were recently destroyed by the Swiss government. This story was related in a United Nations report by David Albright. It related to the now shut-down operation by Abdul Qadeer Khan. The files had been over 1000 gigabytes in size. There is every likelihood that other copies had been made and exist. The disk space is larger than what may fit on many modern home computers, which now often have disk storage in the hundreds of gigabytes.

The blueprints and parts might have been particularly desired by Iran and North Korea.

General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has never allowed IAEA to interview A. Q. Khan or his associates. The designs reportedly resembled those of the smaller nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s current possession.

Some of this story had appeared in a book by David Armstrong and Joseph Trento, reviewed on my Books blog (see my profile and follow links) Dec. 2, 2007.

Joby Warrick reports this new development in the front page story in the June 14, 2008 Washington Post, “Smugglers Had Designs for Advanced Warhead,” link here.

The New York Times on June 15 has a couple of stories by David E. Sanger, such as (with William J. Broad) "Officials Fear Bomb Design Went to Others", link here.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has a paper dated 2004 from Congressional Quarterly on its site, “Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism: Can “rogue” states and terrorists acquire nuclear weapons?here.

An organization called the Nuclear Threat Initiative, connected to former Senator Sam Nunn, has offered a short dramatic film about proliferation, "The Last Best Chance."

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