Jeffrey LewisMusharraf On Khan & North Korea

Kyodo interviewed Pakistani CEO Perverz Musharraf, who confirmed that AQ Khan supplied North Korea with centrifuges and components. Musharraf also allowed the Khan may have provided uranium hexafluoride:

Asked to comment on reports that Pakistan has told Japanese government officials that Khan gave about 20 centrifuges to North Korea, Musharraf said, “Yes, he passed centrifuges—parts and complete. I do not exactly remember the number.”

Musharraf said he was unsure whether Khan had provided UF6 gas, which is passed through the centrifuges to enrich uranium, to North Korea, as reported by some international media.

But he called it immaterial since only one or two cylinders of UF6 would be insufficient for a nuclear program. Likewise, he said, it is immaterial whether Khan visited North Korea 10, 20 or even 30 times since he could provide only limited help or information.

“Again, if A.Q. Khan had given UF6 gas, some cylinders, it is not
enough. It needs tons and tons of UF6 gas to make enrich uranium, to go through thousands of centrifuges to be able to produce 1 kilogram of enriched uranium. So even if he has provided some gas, it is immaterial. They need so much more,” he said.

Kyodo requires a subscription, but a Pakistani website has the full-text of the interview.

The allegation that Khan provided 20 centrifuges appeared in a June 6 Asahi Shimbun article by entitled, “U.S. knew of North nukes plan in 2002.” (The US knew before 2002. Clinton reportedly raised the issue of Khan’s connections with North Korea during his trip to Islamabad in 2000.)

Kyodo was one of the news outlets reporting that the Khan network exported UF6 to North Korea—a source involved with the six part talks told Kyodo in October 2004 that Khan “furnished the North with uranium hexafluoride, a material used in the uranium enrichment process.” (Someone in a chat room posted the full text.)

The first source, I regret to say, was Mr. Sanger at the New York Times in March 2004 (via the Agonist):

A new classified intelligence report presented to the White House last week detailed for the first time the extent to which Pakistan’s Khan Research Laboratories provided North Korea with all the equipment and technology it needed to produce uranium-based nuclear weapons, according to American and Asian officials who have been briefed on its conclusions.

[snip]

A senior American official described it as “the complete package,” from raw uranium hexafluoride to the centrifuges to enrich it into nuclear fuel, which could be more easily hidden from inspectors than were North Korea’s older sites to produce plutonium bombs.

[snip]

The classified report is largely a history of the Khan Laboratories’ dealings with North Korea, a relationship that dates back to the early 1990’s. Many of those early dealings concerned importing North Korean missile technology to Pakistan, which needed long-range missiles that could reach virtually all parts of India. That Pakistani goal has now been reached, partly because of North Korea’s help.

The report also detailed how Mr. Khan, who was already selling nuclear components to Iran, converted the relationship to one of two-way trade. By the late 1990’s, he was sending raw uranium hexaflouride to North Korea directly from the Khan laboratory. North Korea also obtained parts for manufacturing its centrifuges, intelligence officials said, from some of the same factories and middle-men that supplied Libya. [Emphasis Mine]

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