Monday, August 25, 2008

Swiss government apparently destroys secret nuclear plans that could have wound up in Iran or with Al Qaeda

The New York Times featured a disturbing front page story today, Aug 25, about nuclear raw materials, and a possible plot to get them to Iran, North Korea, or certain elements in Pakistan related to Abdul Qadeer Khan. Three Swiss engineers, Friedrich Tinner with two sons, are accused of having developed a clandestine relationship with Khan.

The detailed story is called “In Nuclear Net’s Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Details”, by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, link here. The Swiss government claims to have destroyed the materials and computer documentation. The material would have been much more valuable to a state like Iran or North Korea than rogue elements of a group like Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, the whole situation (which the CIA has spent money on but cannot discuss) is quite disturbing now in view of the uncertainty that follows Musharraf’s being “run out” from Pakistan, when one considers that Pakistan belongs to “the Club.”

Collecting and securing (or destroying) loose nuclear and other WMD materials from around the world, especially Russia and the remnants of the former Soviet Union and Communist block, is a major national security priority for all democratic countries.

The Pakistani scientist Khan was depicted last year in a controversial book by David Armstrong and Joseph Trento, reviewed here on the books blog in December 2007.

In a distantly related story, early Aug. 26 The New York Times also reported in a story by Choe Sang-Hun that North Korea was threatening to restore its facility to make plutonium for nuclear weapons, nullifying a foreign policy achievement of President Bush, link here.

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