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Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise Of Proliferation Networks [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service]

Speaker: Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation, International Institute for Strategic Studies and Editor, "Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks," an IISS Strategic Dossier
Presider: Gary Samore, Vice President, Director of Studies, Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
May 9, 2007
Council on Foreign Relations

GARY SAMORE:  I think we probably will go ahead and get started.  I expect a few more people will trickle in in the course of our breakfast but why don't we get going? 

I'd like to welcome my friend, Mark Fitzpatrick, here to the council.  Mark is a senior fellow for nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and the principal author of this very thick dossier that you had on your chairs when you came in this morning on nuclear black markets.  I -- before Mark joined the institute in London, he had a full career in the U.S. government at the State Department.  I believe we first worked together more than 15 years ago at the -- in the first Bush administration when Mark was on the Korea desk and I was trying to figure out how to get a bilateral inspection regime going between North and South Korea, which ended in total failure.  Aside from working on Korean nuclear issues, Mark also spent time at the U.S. mission to the IAEA in Vienna, and during the current Bush administration he was one of those officials who was instrumental in putting the Proliferation Security Initiative in place -- the PSI -- which I think is probably one of the most important accomplishments of the Bush administration in this field.

So Mark comes to this issue with a lot of government experience, and I think it's always helpful for the public debate to have an experienced person who's seen what things are like on the inside try to pull together publicly available information, especially on a subject that's so murky and mysterious and full of misinformation as -- and as well as disinformation -- as nuclear black markets.  It's great stuff for novels and movies but to actually describe what really goes on I think is much more challenging.  So perhaps I'd like to start by asking Mark to take a few minutes to tell us what the main themes and conclusions are, since none of you will have had an opportunity to read this dossier.  Mark?

MARK FITZPATRICK:  Thank you, Gary.  That reminds me that I've been following in your footsteps for some time now.  I followed in Gary's footsteps in London when I joined the International Institute for Strategic Studies as senior fellow for nonproliferation a year and a half ago.  And when I got to London and tried to scope out my work plan, I wondered what could I do -- Gary had already done strategic dossiers on Iraq, on North Korea, on Iran's strategic weapons programs.  He had already done the Axis of Evil.  And I thought -- well, actually Pakistan is the country and A.Q. Khan is the kingpin of a network that was responsible for the most dangerous expansion of nuclear weapons technology over the past decade, and it maybe would be worthwhile pulling together some of what is known or what could be known about that proliferation. 

But in starting the research project we realized very quickly that this is not just a problem that is a single country focus.  It's not just a Pakistan problem.  Every country that has embarked on a nuclear weapons development program has received some assistance from overseas.  In the beginning, this was a state-to-state assistance.  When the door closed to the nuclear weapons club, it became illicit to obtain nuclear technology from state to state, and so countries that were intent on it had to go through the black market.  And there were about 12 different countries that have done that, and we have one chapter summarizing some of what is known about those other 12 countries.  But much of the rest of the book is focused on Pakistan and both Pakistan's acquisition efforts.  We have a very substantial chapter on Pakistan's nuclear program in which one of the conclusions is that there is a rough equivalence in South Asia in terms of their ability to produce nuclear weapons and the fissile material holdings between India and Pakistan.  We assessed that India has a much greater capacity to expand their nuclear weapons arsenal, and that it would be in Pakistan's interest if these -- if fissile material production were capped at current levels to -- for example, a fissile material cutoff treaty. 

In assessing the Khan network's sales to Iran, North Korea, Libya, we look at the ways in which Pakistan governmental officials in -- as individuals abetted some of these sales, and the questions about Pakistan government involvement, and it ranges along a continuum.  In some cases, there was very clearly government involvement, most clearly in the case of North Korea, although it would be too much to just say, you know, completely this was strictly a government-to-government deal.  There could have -- may well have been some ways in which Khan was operating partly independently with regard to North Korea. 

On the Iran sale, it was a -- more of a gray area.  Many of Khan's foreign associates were the ones who were directly getting this deal in place.  Khan was the kingmaker -- the rainmaker -- but his foreign associates were the ones who actually put together a lot of these deals, and got a lot of the money from it, and that was the case with Libya.  Libya was more of a strict -- a rogue entrepreneurial enterprise.  Pakistan government certainly had to know about it, but knowledge does not necessarily mean fomenting it or -- so anyway, there -- various degrees of government involvement that we assess.  And we tried to be very cautious in our assessments.  Pakistan government wasn't at all happy with that fact that we focused on this at all, but I think if they look through and read our dossier they will agree that we were fair in our assessments. 

Some of the -- there's one chapter on the nuclear black market in nuclear material -- that is, the highly enriched uranium or sometimes low enriched uranium or sometimes uranium yellow cake or radioactive materials or materials that weren't anything but were part of a scam purported to be nuclear materials -- and the different trends in the illicit sales of nuclear materials.  Mostly it's supplier driven.  You don't find too many -- too much evidence on the demand side for nuclear materials.  Countries that want nuclear weapons don't want to just buy some nuclear material from the black market.  They want to be able to produce it themselves.  But terrorist groups -- they don't need to produce it.  They -- you know, one nuclear weapon in their hands would be enough.  So the demand that there is is probably from terrorist groups.  But apart from A.Q. -- from al Qaeda's statements about wanting nuclear weapons and the efforts by Aum Shin Rikio, the Japanese cult, back in the early 1990s to obtain loose nukes from the Soviet Union -- an effort that failed.  There's not a lot of evidence about the demand side. 

We assess what countries have done to try to prevent the reoccurrence of A.Q. Khan-type black market networks, and we conclude that they haven't done too much to date.  There is a United Nations Security Council resolution of May 2004 that requires all nations to put in place strict export controls and to enforce them, but the implementation of this resolution is pretty shoddy, as we point out. And countries that were directly involved in the Khan network -- like Malaysia, where he had a major production node, and United Arab Emirates, which was the transit point and, in fact, the headquarters of his overseas operations -- didn't have export control logs then and don't have them now still.  So there's a lot to be done, and in our last chapter we lay out some policy options for countries, and this involves some things of just implementing the regulations that are already on the books or that the Security Council requires.  Having better government-industry cooperation -- industry is on the front lines.  The first people who are going to find out if there's any attempts to procure are going to be people who make sensitive nuclear material.  So that, you know, expanding on those kind of cooperation programs and various other options, but when all else fails, interdiction like the Proliferation Security Initiative that Gary mentioned.  There are many -- there's a 170-page book and I could talk for an hour about various findings.

But maybe -- Gary, you said I should talk for about five minutes and I think I've reached that point.  But if I could just say one last thing, is that sitting on my left is Robert James and his daughter, Cathy Paglia, whose foundation -- the Robert James Foundation was instrumental in support for this publication and I thank them and the MacArthur Foundation that gave enough that we could distribute copies of the dossier to you all and to institutions and academic organizations around the world so that we can contribute to a worldwide fountain of knowledge on this subject.

SAMORE:  Thank you, Mark.

I've got a couple of specific questions.  I had a chance, actually, to read most of the dossier last night and then I'll open it up for a general discussion.  The section on A.Q. Khan, I think, is the finest public treatment of the issue in terms of telling the full story of the rise and exposure and demise of A.Q. Khan, which is really a fascinating story that stretches more than 20 years into the past.  And of course, the Pakistani government claims that they've put a stake into the heart of the A.Q. Khan network and that it is dead and buried.  You suggest that there may still some people who participated in A.Q. Khan network that might be lying low and waiting for an opportunity to try and revive business.  So I -- we'd just like to get a sense from you whether you think the steps the Pakistani government has taken are sufficient and -- well, you've already suggested that other governments who were involved or who hosted private manufacturers have not taken adequate measures, but how do you rate the danger that five years from now, we'll learn that, in fact, bits and pieces of the A.Q. Khan network are once again back in business selling components?

FITZPATRICK:  In assessing that question, you have to look both at what's -- what Pakistan has done and in -- and what other countries have done.  The network was very much a multinational network.  Pakistan rolled up the network in terms of bringing in -- questioning, detaining about 22 of Khan's associates.  But what exactly they -- on what grounds they detained them, it's very opaque.  They didn't note any laws that they broke and no prison sentences were imposed.  Khan and some of his associates are under house arrest.  Others are presumably free.  In talking with government officials about whether Pakistan's efforts to close down the proliferation of -- the Pakistan-based part of the proliferation, the assessment we heard was that it is not airtight, that there is still some leakage.  Now I -- it -- you know, this is sensitive intelligence information, so we couldn't get too many details on this.  But this was sort of the phrase that we heard from more than one source -- it's not totally shut down.  

And the -- and then the foreign side of the network -- Khan's foreign associates probably numbered in the -- you know, several dozens.  Fifty is one number that has been proposed.  I can't confirm that number.  And the number of Khan's foreign associates who have been named in open-source literature is 38.  And of those 38, three are now in prison, the rest are walking free.  Some of them -- well, not -- they're not all walking free.  Some of them are under detention in Switzerland.  Some of the key members are still awaiting trial.  There's one key member, Goherd Lurch (sp), in Germany, who is -- his trial was suspended last summer because of a -- you know, a legal problem with the intelligence-derived information that was used in the suit.  But others are walking free. 

And then apart from those 38, there undoubtedly are some suppliers to the Khan network who are lying low.  You know, when you decapitate the head of a network or an -- or decapitate the head of a node in this network, you don't eradicate all of it.  So many of the foreign associates of Khan were not just working for Khan.  They were loosely associated with him.  You know, they had their business deals on the side, and some of what they did was with Khan and some of it was legitimate business.  And some of those may still be engaged in legitimate business or just in some area -- other area, and if the right -- you know, if they got the right price from Iran or from al Qaeda, you know, they may be disposed to going back into that kind of business. 

SAMORE:  Well, you mentioned Iran.  That's my second question.  One of the things that you talk about in the dossier is the extent to which Iran has developed its own network for acquiring centrifuge components and materials.  I'd like you talk a little bit about that because, of course, Iran is very much a live issue these days in terms of our efforts to try to slow down or stop its nuclear weapons program. 

FITZPATRICK:  Yes.  You know, Khan gave Iran enrichment technology in 1985 for the first time, and then again in -- throughout late 1980s and 1990s.  But Iran's had technology for a long time -- 22 years now -- and they haven't gotten to a weapon capability yet.  It indicates they've been on a much more lackadaisical path than Pakistan was on, which -- in Pakistan's case, from the time Khan stole the technology from the Netherlands to the time that he could say he could produce nuclear weapon was 10 years.  So obviously a different trajectory.  But Iran's trajectory has -- the pace has very much quickened in the last few years, and their procurement efforts from the demand side are very extensive.  The -- you know, in talking to sources in government and in former government, they described Khan's sort of pack -- Iran -- Iran's procurement efforts as being very sophisticated, centralized, rapidly changing front companies and financial arrangements.

The -- most nuclear technology suppliers are on to the problem and are very vigilant about preventing technology and nuclear-related materials to Iran.  But these days, they're -- you know, with globalization any country can produce sophisticated machinery that could be used in nuclear weapons programs.  Not every country can produce some of the key areas where Iran has a bottleneck in its program, like managing steel.  And -- that -- so the number of countries that can produce that are limited and they are, I think, determined not to sell it to Iran.  So I think strict export controls will be very helpful to prevent Iran from at least getting the large program that it envisions, even though the horse is out of the barn in terms of its smaller-scale program. 

SAMORE:  Why don't we open it up now?

(Note:  A short portion of the meeting at this point was off the record.)

SAMORE:  Mr. Lay.

QUESTIONER:  Yeah, thank you.  To come back to the other networks, I'm reading the George Tenet book at the moment and there is a section on A.Q. Khan and how the network was -- (off mike) -- and then George Tenet rather intriguingly says he's very worried -- or the intelligence community is very worried about other networks.  And I'm not sure -- it's difficult to know how to read the sentence because it is, I think, only a sentence.  And it's not clear whether it's the kind of networks -- or potential networks that you've been talking about, which are either A.Q. Khan-centric or somehow related to him.  It might be something quite separate.  I mean, are there Russia-based networks?  Are there other networks that we -- that we don't hear about and which we should be concerned about?

FITZPATRICK:  The nuclear networks that are in existence today are demand-driven networks.  They're, you know, the Iran procurement network -- the front companies, and so forth, that Iran operates are in place.  Pakistan's procurement network remains active -- Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, you know, exists; they continue to need replacement parts and more efficient materials, so they continue to procure -- that's a black market network.  I don't think that's what George Tenet was talking about though, because in Pakistan's case they already have the nuclear weapon, there's not as much concern about stopping them from getting a little bit more.  The concern is stopping Iran or stopping North Korea. 

In the case of North Korea, they had a procurement effort after Khan provided enrichment centrifuges to North Korea in the late 1990s, and a shopping list with which North Korea then went out to procure additional material.  That was what led to the breakdown of the agreed framework.  But it's hard to say that North Korea continues today to procure that because the evidence is just not available in the open sources about any ongoing North Korean activity.

Now the supply-side network that I think is the focus of what you were asking, or what George Tenet was talking about, I'm not aware of any, what we would call a "black market supply network."  There are some individuals who had been associated with Khan who are lying low.  There are networks of "gray market activity" -- Russia-based people like Victor Bout, who supplies gray market conventional arms to any conflict-ridden area of the world -- supplies all of the weapons, all of the financing, the transport for any civil war in the world.  And the danger that I worry about, and that I assume George Tenet worries about, is if somebody like this would expand into nuclear weapons or radiological weapons that could be used as dirty bombs. 

SAMORE:  Mr. Powers, are you? 

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike) -- the first one, but just as a follow up. 

When we heard the ambassador the other day speaking, I'm wondering if that situation that occurred with Dr. Khan couldn't be -- couldn't be or, perhaps, isn't being recreated, as we speak, in other countries.  And if you address in your book what the arms sort of export control -- what we can do about situations where a government is, seemingly anyway, tacitly supporting -- and maybe even encouraging -- and yet having a sort of plausible deniability of such a large capacity as we've seen in the case of Musharraf.

FITZPATRICK:  We assess a couple different potential proliferation scenarios of the future that would involve quasi-governmental involvement in quasi-private sector -- you know, and Khan was the quasi-public/private.  One would be -- in the case of Iran, suppose that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials got control of some nuclear assets and if there was a continuing power struggle in Tehran -- led to them actually, physically getting control of this and then using it for purposes of selling to an overseas group or a foreign group.  And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, you know, has very extensive contacts with Hamas and Hezbollah and others; they have a very strong commercial inclination, they control large areas of commercial activity in Iran; they have a record of corruption and then we know that there are these power struggles.  So that all contributes to a scenario in which you could envision them engaged in some kind of a sale effort. 

You could envision in Pakistan a breakdown in control -- and this goes back to, I think, the question of how firm in place are the command-and-control structures?  In Pakistan, if fundamentalist-inclined groups that had a vision of the Islamic community at large -- not just state-centered, but religion-centered -- they would be more inclined to maybe be willing to transfer nuclear assets.  When I say nuclear assets, I don't just mean weapons, it could be the technology, it could be fissile material, or, you know, plans or bomb design plans. 

In North Korea you could envision centralized control breaking down there -- either upon Kim Jong Il's death or maybe leading up to that.  You could envision -- even if the Six-Party Talks led to an actual freezing of North Korea's program and actual disabling of the program -- North Korea would suddenly have a lot of nuclear assets that were no longer useful.  It would have chemicals for plutonium separation and other things that if there was some breakdown in authority, a corrupt official might be inclined to want to sell some of that. 

Then what do you do to try to stop it -- and you need a layered approach of various policies -- no single one is going to be the silver bullet.  You need a lot of cooperation among governments  in information, intelligence sharing.  You need, you know, strict controls; and then I think you need the kind of proliferation security initiative cooperation.  But it would have to involve China, and India, and Egypt to really be effective.  There are too many gaps in the geographic participation in that effort. 

SAMORE:  Joanna?

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  You mentioned the resolution the Security Council passed on weapons of mass destruction, but you also said that it's not being implemented.  That resolution was passed as essentially a response to A.Q. Khan's --

FITZPATRICK:  Yes, it was.  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  -- well, the revelations about his activities.  Do you think that this was just the council's effort to be seen as doing something -- and a little bit of a smokescreen?  Or do you think that these things can actually have an impact and can be useful -- that there is a role for the Security Council in this?  And if there is, is there something that the council could and should be doing to make this resolution implemented as is? 

FITZPATRICK:  I think it was a very sincere effort on the part of the council and the sponsor.  The United States came up with the idea; got Russia on-board early on -- it was a good example of U.S.-Russia cooperation in putting in place --  And it had a very important function in establishing for the first time an international norm -- that countries are responsible for what leaves their borders.  This is a new concept that now is enshrined in a Security Council resolution that had a 50-to-nothing support for it.

One reason it's not being implemented as fully as it should be is that, because it was a security council resolution -- it was 15 members coming up with this, and then, you might say, imposing their will on the rest of the world.  Had it been a international treaty in which there was buy-in by all the parties, it would be seen to have more legitimacy.  But then you'd have the, you know -- the problem of that is it takes so long to get an international treaty -- it's the lowest common denominator phenomenon. 

So I think a Security Council resolution is the best we could have gotten and we got a very good one.  It didn't have enforcement measures.  It didn't have any body that was empowered to investigate whether it was being implemented.  There is a committee of a few experts that are reporting on the extent to which countries fulfilled their reporting requirements, but they're not going out and looking and seeing -- are these export controls actually being implemented. 

I think the International Atomic Energy Agency could be charged with that responsibility.  It would require an expansion of the IAEA's mandate, but I think they have the expertise in nuclear matters generally and could be supplemented with training in export controls that would contribute to a solution.

SAMORE:  I know you're going to be talking to people at the U.N. later this week and I hope you'll convey that message because I do think --

FITZPATRICK:  I'm glad you asked the question because it helped me, I think, through that answer -- yes.

SAMORE:  You know, 1540 is a classic, you know, U.N. case of, you know, great, you know, resolution, terrible follow-through, which we've seen so many times.  And I hope that -- I hope the U.N., you know, can be mobilized to actually enforce some of the resolutions they pass.

QUESTIONER:  I wanted to ask you to expand a little bit about -- on what you said about North Korea.  How does North Korea -- how did it fit into the Khan network, and if you're able and willing to talk about what North Korea is going to say --


QUESTIONER:  -- I'd be interested in that as well.

FITZPATRICK:  It's important to realize that the assistance that A.Q. Khan gave to North Korea was not part of North Korea's nuclear test of last October.  The nuclear test was a plutonium-based test.  Khan's assistance to North Korea was uranium enrichment-related.  Now, saying that, we don't know whether Khan supplied a test design.  He supplied a test design to Libya.  It was a uranium-based test that Pakistan had originally acquired from China.  It would not have been directly applicable to North Korea's plutonium-based weapon but I think they could have modified it and it could have been helpful to them.  But North Korea had been working on test designs for 20 years.  By the way, that test design that Libya got was about 95 percent accurate.  I mean, it had a few missing pages -- some key to-scale drawings were missing in what Libya got. And in talking with experts about this, they say Libya by itself could not have supplied the missing pages.  They just didn't have the infrastructure and enough trained people in the various disciplines to be able to do it. 

But if North Korea had gotten the same design they could have because they've got a much larger cadre of trained scientists and engineers, and there's a logic to thinking that A.Q. Khan may well have given the design to North Korea.  He sold it to Libya for $24 million -- not very much money really -- and the sale to Libya was 2001.  Now, that's about the time still when Khan was dealing with North Korea, so why not sell it to North Korea as well and get more money.  But, you know, there's not evidence for that and we don't want to make conclusions based on assumptions.  You have to be based on evidence.  North Korea's program today -- as I said, I don't have evidence that they are continuing to try to procure from foreign suppliers, but they have enough of an arsenal of -- enough plutonium for six to ten weapons.  That's probably enough for a small deterrent. 

And every day I read the papers to find out if they are going through with the February 13th agreement to freeze -- no, you can't say freeze -- that was a Clinton era verb.  (Laughter.)  Shut down.  Suspend the program and then disable it and, you know, so far I've been -- every day I haven't seen it but I, you know, keep reading, "Well they're about to do it" and I don't -- nobody thinks that North Korea's going to give up its nuclear weapons at least until there's -- some day comes when they feel that the security-driven rationale that led them to acquire nuclear weapons is met in some other way.

SAMORE:  Leon Sigal’s on my list.  You may want to comment on North Korea.  We were having an interesting conversation before breakfast about the banking practices in Asia, but --

 QUESTIONER:  Just a small footnote.  The United States has not yet done what it said it would do within 30 days on February 13, which is free up the money.  You have to put it in a bank.  So all the speculation about North Korea delaying -- (off mike) -- which is the date that we were supposed to do something and haven't yet done what we said.  So -- (off mike) -- (first ?) testified on Friday in public.  He said it's not done yet.

FITZPATRICK:  So who testified?

QUESTIONER:  Hill said in public at SAIS it's not done yet, and he also said, "I'll have stories to tell my grandchildren about this" -- (laughter) -- which was as broad a hint as you could have about his problem with Treasury, which is not doing what it's supposed to do for its own internal reasons.

FITZPATRICK:  Did he attribute that?  He said that Treasury hasn't done --

QUESTIONER:  He never said Treasury.  No, no, no, he's too smart a guy to do that.  No, but we all understand what the problem is.

QUESTIONER:  But we're not holding the money.  It's someone else.

QUESTIONER:  That's right, but no bank will take the money without Treasury saying it's okay to do so.  Ask bankers you know whether they'd touch this money.  They will all -- every banker I'd ask, and I've asked some very serious bankers.  All have the same story.  There are only two ways they'd touch the money -- Treasury says it's okay, or the money is passed through the Fed to them, which is a procedure -- each of those procedures we've used in the past with other similar situations.  Iran back when -- Afghanistan -- you name it.  Anyways, small footnote.  Questions -- I've got three.  One, just what -- how you answered Melanie Kirkpatrick's question seemed to imply that we're talking about an implosion bomb.  Since nobody has flatly said, that the question is did the North Koreans test an implosion device as opposed to a gun-type device because presumably what Pakistan passed was an implosion design, if they passed such a thing.  Second question -- I did immediately turn to the relevant pages and I notice you cite Hwang Jang Yop as saying that the deal on -- a deal on HEU for Nodongs was done in '96.  Do you regard that date as pretty convincing based on his evidence?  And third question -- Powell at one point said the delivery of equipment from Pakistan began in '98.  Do we have reason to question that date?

FITZPATRICK:  I'm sorry. Delivery --

QUESTIONER:  Deliveries began -- were -- not began -- were first detected in '98.  You said that in public at one point.  Do we have reason to question that it might have begun earlier?  Is that the implication of what you're saying here?

FITZPATRICK:  Okay.  Those are questions from an expert and I'll try to treat them with the same level of expertise.  The test of October 9th was almost certainly a implosion device.  The yield was so small and the planned yield was so small I don't think it could have been a shot -- a gun-type.  Plus plutonium -- well, no, plutonium has to be an implosion weapon so Hwang Jang Yop's testimony in 1986 to which we refer we were kind of careful how we did that.  We didn't draw conclusions on his testimony.  I don't -- you know, this is kind of in the category of a defector testimony, and I think you have to give defector testimony a great deal of careful scrutiny before drawing any conclusions from it.  Combine all the evidence that is available.  The deal may well have been done in 19 --

(To Mr. Samore.)  I'm sorry, was it '96?

SAMORE:  '96.  The implementation was late '96.

FITZPATRICK:  '96, yeah.  The deal may well have been done in '96 with -- but with actual deliveries starting later.  We say that the deliveries were in the late 1990s because we couldn't get accurate information about when they actually began.  I hadn't seen Powell's statement about 1998 but that certainly is within the time frame.  The earliest reports in the open sources about U.S. government knowledge of the delivery of the centrifuges I think were in 2000 from a Department of Energy intelligence report, and that coincides with about the time when President Clinton could not sign the --

SAMORE:  Certify.

FITZPATRICK:  -- certify the Agreed Framework without a presidential waiver and it was because of that -- knowing that there was this violation.

SAMORE:  Just to add my memory to the mix, that's my recollection, since I was in the White House actually advising the president not to make the certification in 2000.  We -- there was enough information to raise questions.  We obviously -- like most intelligence things you don't know for sure -- it's an accumulation of information.  But right at the very end of the Clinton administration we became concerned that Pakistan had provided centrifuge technology to North Korea.  Of course, we knew about the missile transfers going from North Korea to Pakistan well before that, but we had assumed it was just a financial transaction.  We didn't realize it was a, you know, that it involved a trade of nuclear technology.  Bob James?

QUESTIONER:  Yeah.  A question about the Iraq.  Now, it's generally believed now that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and I guess nobody ever said they had a nuclear weapon.  Your book said that in 1990, Iraq was within several years of a nuclear weapon, I've heard -- your book or earlier.


QUESTIONER:  The IISS study of, what was it, four years ago -- I've forgotten -- said that Saddam could have a nuclear weapon if it could get the nuclear material within a couple of years, I think, or had to start from scratch it could have it within four or five years, I think is about what it had to say.  And if I -- I haven't looked at this really carefully, but I think you're saying here that Iraq was not really interested in Khan's offer, something like that.

All right.  Now, putting all this together, was there a legitimate fear four years ago of Iraq's intentions or abilities?

FITZPATRICK:  Well, four years ago -- let me just back up.  Khan's network offered Iraq a nuclear weapon program.  And this is known from documents that the investigators had came up with then.  And it was proposed to Iraq as an AB project -- atomic bomb is how the IAEA investigators interpret that.  When I spoke with them, they were very certain that this was not some ruse.  This was a real offer.  But Iraqis thought it was a ruse, and so they were cautious about it.  And they might have proceeded with this had not they gotten -- you know, they invaded Kuwait and then Operation Desert Storm, and so this cast a different set of circumstances.  And thank God Iraq did not take up the offer, because in 1990 if Khan had given Iraq what he gave to Iran or Libya or even more, then Iraq certainly had an intention.  Now, if the question is, you know, in 2003, to what extent was that long-standing intention able to be manifest, that's not something we deal with.  But my other research leads me to believe that in retrospect no, they didn't have any wherewithal for a nuclear weapons program.  The uranium tubes that they had been seeking to procure were not for an enrichment program.  That doesn't undercut the intention that I think Saddam Hussein always had.

QUESTIONER:  The IISS study of four or five years ago said that they could have a bomb -- Saddam Hussein could have a bomb -- within four or five years, if I remember correctly.  They caught a lot of hell for saying that.

FITZPATRICK:  Well, what we said is that at the time of the first Gulf war, at the time that Iraq invaded Kuwait when, of course, there was a massive, secret nuclear program that we didn't know about, but once the inspectors uncovered the full extent of the program, the assessment was they could have had a bomb in a couple of years if they had continued at their current pace.

QUESTIONER:  And I'm not talking about your study of four or five years ago where it said -- I think I have it right; I think I have money in that study -- I think the study said that the Iraqis could have a bomb within four or five years regardless.  That would have been starting four or five years ago.

FITZPATRICK:  Yeah.  I don't believe so.  I think -- yeah, that was my theory.  I think what we said was that there was no --

QUESTIONER:  I'll go look at the study again.

FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, yeah, look at it again.  I think we said there was no evidence that they had, you know, revived their nuclear program.  But if they could get nuclear materials --

QUESTIONER:  Now, that was two years that they could get nuclear material --


QUESTIONER:  -- or five years if they had to start with doing it -- get their own nuclear materials.  Did I read that right?

FITZPATRICK:  I don't remember exactly what the words are.  We'll have to look back at it.

QUESTIONER:  Well, I have money in it, so -- (laughter).

FITZPATRICK:  What we know now, though -- I mean, we can say with confidence that Iraq didn't have an active nuclear weapons program.  And of course, the CIA thought that they did on the eve of our invasion.

QUESTIONER:  Oh, yeah.

FITZPATRICK:  And we can say that with great confidence that they had, you know, some latent bits and pieces lying around but nothing active.


FITZPATRICK:  Yes, yes, there were others.  Something was going on.

SAMORE:  Rosemary.

QUESTIONER:  Yes, two questions, and the first one's around the Iraq question then moving into Iran.  That is, I think you said that Iran has sort of a lazy program and has spent 20 years on its nuclear program and hasn't gotten there yet.  Well, given that and given that controls are much more protective now than, say, two years ago, can you put a timetable on when Iran, under these conditions, could become a nuclear power? 

And then if I can ask another question entirely different.  You said that China, India and Egypt were crucial to putting together kind of a geopolitical barrier, I guess, to the spread of nuclear weapons.  And I wonder if you could expand a bit on that.

FITZPATRICK:  Sure.  The timeline for Iran's program, as I said, it was lackadaisical.  It has, you know, gone into higher speed in the last few years.  You know, Pakistan, when I give that 10-year timeline, Pakistan was facing a neighbor that had a nuclear weapon, and so it had a great incentive to get there as quickly as possible.  Iran didn't have such a neighbor or didn't have such a threat, and so it could kind of take its time.  But recently, it has, you know, it's going all out to get an enrichment capability in place and it's, you know, it's rejecting every Security Council resolution.  We all know. 

So what's the timeline for Iran?  It's not assessed in this dossier but in other work that we've done at the institute.  And we assess that if everything goes well for Iran -- if the machinery works and they can get stuff in place -- two years is the earliest they could have a single nuclear weapon.  That's not to say it's the most -- two years is the most likely.  I agree with the CIA assessment that it's more likely to be five to 10 years.  But if things went well, if they got 3,000 centrifuges installed in the underground facility at Natanz, got them connected, got them working well, if their feed material is pure enough, they could get enough highly enriched uranium within two years.  And that's under the assumption that meanwhile they would be working on the weaponization about which very little is known other than that a laptop computer, obtained by an intelligence agency through a defector, had preliminary designs for a weapon that would be deliverable by a missile.  Those designs, whether they ever got beyond the drawing board, it's just unknown.  The evidentiary trail stops at 2003.

The interdiction effort that I was talking about -- just the Proliferation Security Initiative, the sort of coalition of the willing is one way of describing it.  You know, if all else fails and if knowledge becomes available that there's a ship or an airplane with nuclear weapons or nuclear material or something like that, nations should have in place a well coordinated practice, means of stopping the ship.  And the Proliferation Security Initiative is designed toward that end.  But it doesn't have all the members that you would want to be part of it.  China would have to be a crucial part of any such effort to stop anything from North Korea.  Any North Korea assail would either be on a ship that was passing near China or would be overland through China or flying over China.  South Korea is not a member, because it's concerned that it would be provocative in its relations with North Korea.  India had been talking about becoming a member, but India takes a long time to come onboard initiatives sponsored by the United States because of its lingering Cold War, you know, disputes with the United States and history.  But India's changing.  There are several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council that are members -- Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain are members, but not Saudi Arabia and then not Egypt, and those are key countries whose shores or waterways ships would often pass on their way to or from proliferating states.

SAMORE:  We've got just about eight minutes left, and I have two people on my list.

Mr. Swing.

QUESTIONER:  I want to come back to Pakistan.  At the time when A.Q. Khan's network was upset, CIA was denied access to speaking with him.  I've not understood the issues, but I read that as reading Musharraf wanted to protect sources within Pakistan.  And therefore, I did not take very seriously the shutdown of the network -- just as a non-expert.  What do you make of this?  And inability to talk to Khan, how important was it?  And what can you say about it?

FITZPATRICK:  Yeah.  This was a big issue when I spoke with the National Press Club yesterday.  And you know, people were saying look, I mean, with all the assistance the United States gives to Pakistan, why can't we get access to this guy?  And my answer was Pakistan's a sovereign country, and they do not want to give access, and they're not going to give access -- period.  I'm convinced that they're not going to give access to A.Q. Khan.  But I'm also convinced that there are other ways of getting the information that would be helpful in tracking down the countries to which Khan sold things and what exactly he sold.  Now, I don't know exactly what those ways are, but when I talk with (IAEO ?) officials, they say they don't need to talk with Khan to get the information they need to pursue their investigation.  So I think there are other ways.

SAMORE:  Is that cooperation with Pakistan or is it --

FITZPATRICK:  Well, it's cooperation --

SAMORE:  -- Pakistan --

FITZPATRICK:  It's cooperation with Pakistan in ways that don't require direct access to Khan.  Now, when I say, you know, Pakistan's a sovereign country and you can't force it to turn over its citizens to international inspectors, some countries do.  Malaysia, you know, let IAEA interview Khan's chief lieutenant, a man named B.S.A. Tahir in Malaysia.  But you know, Pakistan's not going to do it, because Khan knows who gave permission for some of these sales, and that's going to embarrass some, you know, current and previous government officials.  And plus he's got other, you know, secrets in his head that Pakistan says well, these are national security secrets, top secret and, you know, we just can't allow any such invasion of our national security.  Plus this is such a sensitive issue in Pakistan, as we mentioned.  You know, in Pakistan, A.Q. Khan's a hero.  And it could bring about -- would it bring about the fall of the government?  Possibly, if you turn over your hero to the Americans who are under such suspicion in Pakistan.  I mean, as much as Americans, you know, are worried about Pakistan, the mood in Pakistan is not very good toward the United States.

QUESTIONER:  Well, he said that we wouldn't allow our chief scientists to be interviewed either. 

FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, it's a fair point.  Now, I did say Malaysia did allow one of its people to be.  But the guy in Malaysia -- actually, the guy in Malaysia allowed to be interviewed wasn't a Malaysian citizen, so that's the difference.  (Laughter.)

SAMORE:  He's Sri Lankan, wasn't he?

FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, he's Sri Lankan -- yeah.

SAMORE:  Mr. Devine.

QUESTIONER:  Increasing signs of instability in Pakistan, if the government were to fall -- and I don't anticipate that, but it's a low probability -- do we have a capacity to identify a nuclear -- a detonation took place in the United States, which Tenet is talking about -- would we be able to identify which nation states provided the material?  And the second question is, what would be the capacity of Pakistan to deliver any weapons?  What's it's range with the missiles?  The second part of that is a technical one.  How would they deliver one that was detonated without a missile and brought in the United States?

FITZPATRICK:  The first question regards nuclear forensics, and it's not a subject in which I have much expertise, and we don't deal with it in the book.  But it's a subject of great current interest.  And yesterday's David Sanger article in The New York Times touched on this of how government officials are every day looking at this question.  And I'm just going to have to punt on that one, because I can't go beyond what is already in the open sources.

Pakistan's capacity to deliver a weapon are primarily with the use of its F-16 aircraft and its missiles, both of which the range is limited to their immediate neighborhood.  I mean, this is basically a Pakistan-India --

QUESTIONER:  Could they reach Israel?

FITZPATRICK:  Would the reach be Israel?  No, I don't think it would be Israel, no.  Nobody really talks of Pakistan's nuclear weapons as being a threat to anyone other than India.  But there are other ways to deliver a nuclear weapon.  You know, can a nuclear weapon be put in the truck and trucked across Afghanistan or Iran to somewhere else and exploded?  I mean, this is within the realm of the possible, certainly -- or a ship.  I mean, that's why we need such things as interdiction cooperation to both get intelligence on such shipments and the means of interdicting them.

SAMORE:  Okay, last question, Lori.

QUESTIONER:  I'm struggling.  I was trying to make this one question, but I'll give both as wrap-up questions in a sense.  You were saying the Proliferation Security Initiative is there if all else fails.  And I was hoping that you could help shed some light on what else could succeed or what else we have done.  You've mentioned since the A.Q. Khan network broke up, it seems very pessimistic.  You mentioned the U.N. Security Council resolution which has gone nowhere.  It seems like there is a real vacuum in terms of actually trying to capitalize on the success we've had of interrupting the A.Q. Khan network.  And I was just hoping you could address that a little bit, you know, from the vantage point of this discussion.  You have the Non-Proliferation Treaty collapsing.  You have -- or not collapsing, but in trouble.

FITZPATRICK:  Trouble.  (Chuckles.)

QUESTIONER:  Trouble.  You have, you know, the threat, particularly of Iran, North Korea.  And you have countries going towards nuclear energy, whether it's from a global warming perspective or whether it's from a regional perspective, like what's happening in Iran with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.  So I was just hoping you could maybe outline some of the positive things we have done to capitalize on closing down the A.Q. Khan network and how you see the interest and the growing interest in implementation of more nuclear energy affecting where we need to go.

FITZPATRICK:  Sure, sure.  I think that nations have done quite a bit.  They've put in place several efforts.  I mentioned the U.N. one which is a big one.  The Bush administration's Proliferation Security Initiative we've talked about.  There are a number of other steps that we outline in the book.  But then, as I mentioned, not all of them have been implemented to the extent they need to be.  The PSI is one example, in addition to the geographic reach not being wide enough, has not got a kind of institutional framework to it.  And if the next administration were to do, you know, what the Bush administration did and decided anything that the previous administration did that they don't want to do, you know, PSI would be out the window.  I don't think, you know, no new administration would do that, but it would be good to make it more institutional.  Right now, it's very ad hoc.  It's not in any branch of government's budget or so forth.

Preventing nuclear energy expansion from becoming a proliferation threat, I think there are two very specific things that should be done.  You know, the expansion of interest in nuclear energy in the Middle East is an important topic, and it's the subject of our next dossier.  Maybe I can come back in a year and talk to you in more detail about that.  But Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey all talking about nuclear energy in the last year and a half in ways that they hadn't before.  Much of that is driven by their concern about the Iran nuclear program.  So there's very much a security element here in addition.  And some of the countries have legitimate economic rationale for energy diversification.  I think that you need two things.  One is you need absolute transparency.  This means insisting on adoption of and implementation of the IAEA additional protocol transparency measures.  Second is insisting on nuclear energy being separate from uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, the two sensitive technologies that are not necessary for energy production.  Countries can buy these services on the international market if they have an assured supply.  And there's several schemes under way to try to put in place such assured supply regimes, like IAEA having enriched uranium in a fallback.  If, for other reasons, countries couldn't get it, the IAEA would give it.  Just kind of an assured supply, so it's not just supplier countries saying no, thou shalt not.  It's countries on their own having their own incentives not to go that route.  And I think this combination would give us a reason to say Egypt, no problem nuclear energy.  (She ?) might think Saudi Arabia doesn't need nuclear energy.  But Turkey, no problem as long as transparency and no sensitive technologies.

SAMORE:  I'd like to remind everybody that this conversation's on the record, so you're free to openly talk about what Mark said.  And I hope you'll encourage your friends to buy this book if they're interested in nuclear black markets.  In the meantime, I hope we'll have another session in a year or so when you bring out your next dossier.  But I'd like to ask all of you to join me in thanking Mark for coming.  (Applause.)

Thank you.







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