- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2004

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The father of Pakistan’s nuclear program sold uranium-enrichment equipment to Iran for $3 million and signed lucrative contracts for Libya, part of a thriving black market in nuclear arms, according to a Malaysian police investigative report released yesterday.

The report — based on interviews with one of the operation’s purported middlemen, Bukhary Syed Abu Tahir — reveals details about suspected deals among Pakistan, Iran and Libya. It lays out the extent of the black market, which appears to have included a company owned by the son of Malaysia’s prime minister, as well as British and Swiss middlemen.

Mr. Tahir, a 44-year-old Sri Lankan, said he was one of several people who helped Abdul Qadeer Khan, “the father of Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program,” sell nuclear technology to willing buyers. Mr. Khan confessed this month to leaking nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Malaysia’s investigation into Mr. Tahir began after a company controlled by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son was said to have unwittingly supplied the network.

Police said the 12-page report on the three-month investigation will be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nonproliferation watchdog. The Malaysians urged the agency to investigate European individuals and firms.

President Bush singled out Mr. Tahir and Malaysia in a speech last week that urged tougher international regulations.

Among details supplied by Mr. Tahir in the report are deals between Mr. Khan’s operatives to sell nuclear equipment to Iran for $3 million in cash and to supply a uranium compound used in the enrichment process to Libya.

According to Mr. Tahir’s account, Libya approached Mr. Khan in 1997 for help building a uranium-enrichment program. Negotiations began in Istanbul between the Pakistani scientist and a Libyan identified as Mohammed Matuq Mohammed.

What Mr. Khan’s network couldn’t get for Libya directly, it helped the country build, sending machines and technicians to set up centrifuge-making operations and calling it “Project Machine Shop 1001,” according to Mr. Tahir’s account.

Centrifuges are sophisticated machines that can be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons or nuclear power.

Mr. Tahir told police he was recruited to Mr. Khan’s network in 1994.

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