Jeffrey LewisPakistan Aided Iran With Centrifuge Technology

You may have noticed that the New York Times ran a story entitled “C.I.A. Says Pakistanis Gave Iran Nuclear Aid” that led:

A new report from the Central Intelligence Agency says the arms trafficking network led by the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan provided Iran’s nuclear program with “significant assistance,” including the designs for “advanced and efficient” weapons components.

Well, no kidding.

First, some context: The report is a biannual CIA report, entitled Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, that broadly discusses proliferation-related developments over the past six months.

The relevant passage reads “Before the reporting period, the A. Q. Khan network provided Iran with designs for Pakistan’s older centrifuges, as well as designs for more advanced and efficient models, and components.” [Emphasis mine]

This isn’t news.

When Abdul Qadeer Khan was detained in December 2003, two other Pakistani nuclear scientists—Farooq Mohammed and Yasin Chohan—were detained specifically for their involvement in providing centrifuge technology to Iran.

Both Iran and Pakistan later confirmed that Khan’s network had provided assistance to Iran. In fact, Tehran used the Pakistani equipment to explain why some IAEA tests detected small amounts of Highly Enriched Uranium at the Natanz enrchment facility. We didn’t do it, Tehran said, the Pakistani equipment must have been contaminated—something the IAEA concluded was plausible.

It would have been news if the CIA concluded that Pakistan had not provided significant assistance.

NTI has a short introduction to Khan’s nuclear Wal-Mart. If you want more detail, I suggest this primer by . Chris Clary or, perhaps, another by Len Weiss.