China provided Pak blueprint to build N-weapon
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 18:32
  
Washington: It is China which provided Pakistan with the blueprint to build a nuclear weapon, in early 1980s, a small, reliable armament that could be delivered on India by attack aircraft or missile, according to a new book.

The blueprint was delivered as the desperate Pakistani nuclear scientists led by AQ Khan were unable to build the weapon they wanted, said the book by David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector.

"The best it (Pakistan) could hope for was a bomb weighing a few thousand pounds, akin to what the United States detonated over Japan. Once again, Pakistan would rely on the technological advances of another country for help, but this time it would use diplomacy instead if espionage," says the book.

The book "Peddling Peril: The Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America's Enemies" that hit the stands today gives an in-depth account of how the maligned AQ Khan network through espionage and stealing build the nuclear plant and finally weapon for Pakistan, the secret technology of which was later passed to several rouge States.

Albright, founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, in his book offers an uneven expose on the "illicit trade in nuclear technology" and the threats it poses to American security.

According to the documents assessed by Albright and referred in the book, the United States came to know about the secret China-Pak ties on the nuclear technology; but the then Carter Administration opted to ignore it as it apparently did not wanted this to affect its ties with Pakistan in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

This despite the fact that there were mounting stack of circumstantial evidence of their collusion.

"For Pakistan and AQ Khan, cooperating with China quickly provided to be a boon. The Chinese provided Pakistan with blue prints for building a nuclear weapon, most likely the Chic-4, first tested as a missile warhead in 1966 and detonated above ground, with an explosive force of twelve kilotons, equivalent to 12,000 tons of TNT.

"They also provided 50 kilogrammes of weapon-grade uranium," Albright writes in his book.

"Pakistan now had the blueprint of a proven weapon. In 1981, AQ Khan sent his procurement agents detailed drawings of weapons component with orders to buy them from European companies," the book says.

Noting that China's deal with Pakistan was dramatic there was little consensus among US government officials over what ultimate agenda it served, the book says China provided Pakistan with nuclear assistance to bolster its security.

"As a bonus, China's nuclear scientist would have access to the advances centrifuge technology Khan stole from Europe, technology that might contribute to its own nuclear weapons program."

According to a former US official, Chinese representatives were at Kahuta "all the time" during the early 1980s, both helping Pakistan and receiving information and assistance on building European centrifuges," it says.

In return, between 1981 and 1984, Pakistanis attended a series of lectures in Beijing from prominent Chinese experts in nuclear weapons and took, detailed, dated, handwritten notes in English.

"Drawings obtained from China or produced by Pakistani experts from the notes represent the components of this weapon design with their exact specifications.

"The level of technical precision and detail in the notes and drawings would have allowed Pakistan to manufacture the components with a high confidence that they would work," Albright said.

Albright said these notes go far beyond anything available through open source material or on the Internet.

"One US nuclear weapons expert said this information would be considered classified in the United States," he said. According to the book, soon after the Chinese started giving bomb design to Pakistan, that information was picked up by British intelligence.

"In an intelligence coup, British spies stole the Pakistani blue print for the newly acquired bomb design in 1981 from one of Khan's operatives in Europe and quickly informed the Americans," he said.

He said,: "Researchers (American) were flabbergasted by how much technological know-how had fallen into Pakistani hands, but by then Khan’s plan was in motion.

"By 1983, Pakistan had enough weapon-grade uranium to make a nuclear explosion."

Khan's procurement efforts, Albright, said were a remarkable accomplishment in an industrially backward country, producing highly enriched uranium for a deliverable nuclear weapon in less than a decade.

The glue for Khan's network was huge sums of easy money and little chance of getting caught by the authorities, as the Pakistani government typically refused to cooperate with prosecutors abroad.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 18:32


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