`AQ Khan network is now defunct`

Top US official says Khan`s network of nuclear proliferators is now defunct.

Updated: Jul 24, 2010, 09:49 AM IST

Washington: Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan`s network of nuclear proliferators is now "defunct" due to the steps undertaken by various countries against the clandestine group, a top US official has told American lawmakers.

"The network as far as we understand is basically defunct because of the efforts taken in a number of countries against the constituent parts of that network. We think that network is basically defunct," Vann H Van Diepen, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non Proliferation, said at a Congressional hearing.

"I think the relevance of the AQ Khan network now is that it shows that there can be such a thing as a non-state procurement network. So we`re on the lookout for sort of the next AQ Khan network, so to speak," he said on Thursday.

"Of course we`ve done a lot of work in a number of the countries where the network was able to operate more freely because there were not export controls in place," Diepen said in response to a question.

Earlier in his remarks, Congressman Brad Sherman alleged that the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist operated key parts of his smuggling ring out of the Emirates.

"It (UAE) was a major hub through which traffickers of nuclear technology and dual use material have routed their illegal commerce to countries including Iran, Iraq and Libya," Sherman said.

Nuclear traffickers shipped via the UAE because the country lacked significant export control laws and made it one of the easiest places in the world to mask the real destination of cargo, he claimed.

"Although the UAE has cracked down on smugglers in recent years by acting to interdict suspect shipments and by closing down some Iranian front companies, the Emirates still have not issued regulations or created an enforcement agency for their export control law, which was passed in 2007."

Ed Royce, another Congressman, claimed Malaysia was also a past hub of AQ Khan network.

"Dubai in 2003 was also known as the base of operations for front companies working for the Pakistan scientist AQ Khan and his nuclear procurement network…very dangerous business," Congressman David Scott added.