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Pakistani Ambassador Outlines New Nuclear Security Measures Imposed After Khan Scandal

By Mike Nartker

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON — Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Jehangir Karamat outlined yesterday the new “custodial measures” his country has put into place to protect its nuclear weapons program in the wake of revelations that Pakistani nuclear technology has been transferred abroad (see GSN, Dec. 6).

Since the scandal broke early this year, Pakistan has established national regulatory and command authorities with clear lines of command, human technical surveillance measures for security personnel and new reliability programs, according to Karamat. 

Pakistan has also created a “foolproof” accounting and auditing system, as well as a new export-control system, Karamat said yesterday in remarks at the Brookings Institution. Pakistan’s new export-control system reportedly imposes a prison sentence of up to 14 years and a fine of up to $85,000 for illegal nuclear-related transfers (see GSN, Sept. 14).

Karamat praised the “considerable … technical support” provided by the United States in implementing the new nuclear security measures (see GSN, June 23).

Early this year, top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to transferring nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan’s confession, for which he received a pardon by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, set off an international investigation into the network used to orchestrate the technology transfers — an investigation that has stretched to a number of countries, including Malaysia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

According to recent reports, however, there are concerns that the investigation into the network may be stalling, due in part to Pakistan’s continued refusal to provide either the International Atomic Energy Agency or the United States with direct access to Khan. There has been little indication that the Bush administration has pushed hard on Islamabad, which is considered a key ally in the war on terrorism, to provide access to Khan.

On the other hand, Pakistan has recently agreed to ship some uranium enrichment equipment to Vienna for examination by agency scientists, a Western diplomat familiar with agency activities told Global Security Newswire last week. The schedule for this has not been set, the diplomat said, and the equipment would be returned after testing.

To increase Pakistan’s cooperation, U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, plans to reintroduce legislation next year that contains a provision limiting U.S. aid to Pakistan unless Islamabad increases its assistance in the investigation, including by providing access to Khan and his associates, a Lantos spokeswoman told GSN this week (see GSN, Aug. 9).

Karamat said yesterday that there was “total cooperation” between the United States and Pakistan in the Khan network investigation, adding that the “emphasis” of the investigation has now shifted outside of his country. 

“I think domestically Pakistan’s resolved that problem; carried out an investigation, settled it domestically. But the international network, I think work has to be done on that to discover exactly what is in Iran or what went into Iran and to discover what happened with North Korea. And I think that is an ongoing process which is now picking up as the focus shifts to the international network,” he said.

Karamat also reiterated that the Pakistani government had not approved the activities of Khan and his associates. 

In his remarks, Karamat seemed to play down Khan’s role in the network.

“I think it was the existence of an international network which involved a number of countries, many areas, many people, and that Dr. Khan was perhaps plugged into that network to get what was required and to do what he did,” he said.

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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