- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

NEW YORK A middleman claiming to represent the father of Pakistan's nuclear program offered Iraq help in building an atomic bomb on the eve of the Persian Gulf war, according to U.N. documents, diplomats and former weapons inspectors.
Former inspectors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Pakistani officials did not cooperate when the U.N. nuclear agency tried in the mid-1990s to investigate whether the scientist was behind the proposal.
The former inspectors stopped short of saying Pakistan's government was involved in the offer to help Iraq build a nuclear weapon.
The offer, made by an unidentified agent purportedly speaking on behalf of nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, was shown to the Associated Press. The revelation follows news reports in the fall that Pakistan had assisted North Korea's nuclear program.
U.N. inspectors currently are poring over Iraq's latest arms declaration, looking for clues to its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and any omissions in its report.
Pakistan denies any link to Pyongyang or Baghdad, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca last week said President Pervez Musharraf has given his assurance that nothing is being given to North Korea.
Mr. Khan is in Pakistan and serves as a special adviser to Gen. Musharraf. Calls for comment from Mr. Khan in Islamabad went unanswered yesterday.
Pakistan is one of three Asian nations known to have nuclear arms. China and India are the others. Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, is poised to join the U.N. Security Council next month.
"This is a blatant lie," said Mansoor Suhail, spokesman for the Pakistani mission to the United Nations, speaking about the pre-war offer to aid Iraq's nuclear effort.
In a statement issued later, Mr. Suhail's office said: "Many of the actual truths may never come out," because Iraq's recent nuclear-arms declaration to the United Nations has been circulated only to the Security Council's five permanent members: the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain.
U.N. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Iraq didn't accept the offer from Pakistan and didn't mention it in its latest arms declaration. The offer also is not mentioned in a previous declaration that Iraq made in 1996, which AP recently reviewed.
U.N. inspectors discovered the offer in 1995 in more than 1 million Iraqi intelligence documents they found at an Iraqi storage facility.
Among the documents was a letter dated Oct. 6, 1990 two months after Iraq invaded Kuwait in which Iraq's secret service wrote to Iraq's nuclear-weapons department: "We've enclosed for you the following proposal from Pakistani scientist, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, regarding the possibility of helping Iraq establish a project to enrich uranium and manufacture nuclear weapons."
According to the letter, the Iraqis were told by a middleman that Mr. Khan was "prepared to give us project designs for nuclear bombs." The middleman would "ensure any requirements of materials from Western European companies, via a company he owns in Dubai," in the United Arab Emirates, it added.
According to the letter, the motive was profit for the Pakistani nuclear scientist and the middleman. Such sales and help would have violated U.N. sanctions, imposed after the Iraqi invasion, and international nuclear controls.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it never has identified the middleman because Iraq would not provide more details. The agency tried to track down Mr. Khan and interview him after it discovered the letter, but former inspectors on the team said Pakistan repeatedly frustrated those attempts.
Pakistan said it had investigated on its own and determined that the letter was a fraud by an individual with no connection to the government.
Mr. Khan was employed until 1975 at Urenco, a European consortium that worked on uranium enrichment in the Netherlands. Iraq said in its nuclear declaration that German experts had sold it several centrifuge drawings stolen from Urenco.
Mr. Khan later worked for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. In 1976, he took control of the uranium-enrichment project, reporting directly to the prime minister's office.
Under Mr. Khan's supervision, Pakistani scientists completed the necessary enrichment work that led to the successful detonation of Pakistan's first nuclear device in May 1998.

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