Jeffrey LewisWhere Are The Rest of Khan’s Docs?

“urumqi – best lamb kebabs ever! And that’s ¥1.50 (or $0.20) per stick!” Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, August 2005  Photo credit and caption: Flickr User Cåsver

Now that Fox News has released several of the documents that AQ Khan gave to Simon Henderson, I have had the opportunity to go through three stories published by the Post with the benefit of the original source material (“A nuclear power’s act of proliferation”; “Pakistani scientist depicts more advanced nuclear program in North Korea”; “Pakistani scientist Khan describes Iranian efforts to buy nuclear bombs”).

An interesting question arises: Where are the rest of the documents?

It turns out the documents that Simon Henderson gave to Micah Morrison represent only a portion of the documents that Henderson made available to the Post.

For example, the story “A Nuclear Power’s Act of Proliferation” contains a number of details and quotations that are not in documents posted by Fox.  The details relate to the specifics of the alleged transfer of 50 kilograms of highly enriched uranium in 1982 aboard a Pakistani aircraft, including Khan’s delicious meal of barbecued lamb.

(This detail, by the way, is extraordinarily important.  Khan’s sumptuous meal of barbecued lamb in Urumqi was apparently so amazing that he was still talking about twenty years later.  As I wrote at the very beginning of this discussion in March 2010, forget all this nonsense about who sold what to whom: “If you want current intel, however, it would be better to know where they went for dinner. A great kebob stand is worth its weight in gold.”)

The story contained two quotations from Khan, one that describes Zia as “worried” about India and another that China told Khan “the HEU loaned earlier was now to be considered as a gift … in gratitude.” These passages apparently come from a separate document that Smith and Warrick described as “a five-page summary by Khan of his government’s dealmaking with China.”

The story “Pakistani Scientist Depicts More Advanced Nuclear Program in North Korea” makes a clear reference to Khan having seen six boxes containing components of three nuclear weapons: “‘While they explained the construction [design of their bombs], they quietly showed me the six boxes’ containing split cores for the warheads, as well as ’64 ignitors/detonators per bomb packed in 6 separate boxes,’ Khan said.”  This quote does not appear in the documents released by Fox.   David Sanger at the New York Times, who initially reported on Khan’s assertion that he saw three nuclear weapons in North Korea, sourced the claim to an “account that Pakistan has begun to provide in classified briefings.”

The story “Pakistani scientist Khan Describes Iranian Efforts to Buy Nuclear Bombs” contains the a quotation from Khan describing an Iranian offer (“It was a deal worth almost $10 billion that had been offered by Iran”) that Smith and Warrick attributed to an 11 page statement.  Yet, the passage does not appear in the statement released by Fox (which I am certain is 11 pages long as all the quotes match).  Another passage in the Post story attributes several verbatim descriptions of a visit by an Iranian official to “Khan’s written statement to Henderson,” which suggests an altogether different document.

So, by my account that is at least one more official Pakistani document, an account from Khan to Henderson regarding Iran, and a five-page summary of the cooperation between China and Pakistan by Khan.

Why the selective release?  Again, one can see small errors creeping into the stories.  It is not surprising that Smith and Warrick might incorrectly attribute one of nine or so quoted passages to wrong the Khan document (at -six- seven and counting).  As I keep saying, human beings make mistakes.  The best solution is to release the documents.  All of them.


  1. John Schilling (History)

    Lamb Kebabs? Don’t y’all know that every genuine Pantex(tm) Atom Bomb comes with an authentic Texas barbecue feast? The finest Amarillo Longhorn beef ribs, marinated and slow-cooked over hickory and mesquite until it falls off the bone. And all the Shiner Bock you can drink to wash it down. If ya buy one of them second-rate Chinese bombs, all you get is Chinese takeout…

    Russian nukes, of course, come with a case of top-quality vodka. And the Brits are looking to see if they can use their nuclear arsenal to conquer another country with decent food, which was really the only reason they ever built the Empire in the first place.

    • Sebastian Tallents (History)

      Yum. Atomic Vindaloo.

  2. Gridlock (History)

    People in glass Arbys shouldn’t throw stones.