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A Q Khan

Pakistan's HEU-based Nuclear Weapons Programme and Nuclear Terrorism: A Reality Check

November 2009

In order to construct an operational nuclear device, terrorists need to obtain the requisite fissile materials - Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) or plutonium. It has been proved that, generally, it is much simpler to devise a crude nuclear bomb with HEU than with plutonium. Hence, terrorists can have 'reasonable confidence' in the performance of weapons-grade HEU bombs. The magnitude of the threat of nuclear terrorism from Pakistan's HEU-based nuclear weapons programme is assuming alarming proportions. However, adequate preventive steps can be taken to minimize the danger.

A Q Khan Release and Non-Proliferation

July 2009

On February 6, 2009, the Pakistani judiciary acquitted Abdul Qadeer (AQ) Khan, the symbol of Pakistani involvement in clandestine nuclear commerce. Since 2004, he had been under house arrest after the proliferation network, linking several countries, including Pakistan, was uncovered. Though he has been put under ‘unspecified security measures’, yet the release of AQ Khan – dubbed by the United States State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid as a ‘serious proliferation risk’ – is considered to be a disturbing development for the non-proliferation regime.

The Danger of Nuclear Terrorism: The Indian Case

July 2009

The concept of nuclear terrorism is possibly the least understood of all dangers emanating from nuclear weapons. However, certain drivers like the nuclear black market (the AQ Khan Network), proliferation of nuclear technology, and the increasing demand for nuclear energy can make it easier for terrorist organizations like Al Qaida to acquire fissile material. The threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be ignored any longer. Nuclear terrorism is a plausible phenomenon that deserves adequate consideration, substantial countermeasures, expertise, and competence to combat it.

A.Q. Khan’s Acquittal

February 20, 2009

Though anticipated, the timing of the Islamabad High Court’s verdict to release disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan from house arrest has surprised many, since it came days before the first ever visit by Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Zardari government has tried to play safe by citing this as a decision taken by an ‘independent’ judiciary. Such arguments are, however, unlikely to find many takers.

Security of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

November 29, 2007

President Pervez Musharraf’s claim that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are safe as long as he is in charge has raised widespread speculation about the safety of Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal. Musharraf’s statement comes at a time when Pakistan is going through one of its worst period of domestic instability.

Dynamics of China's Supply of Nuclear Reactors to Pakistan

November 23, 2006

Despite the categorical denial by the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson about a report published by a British newspaper in January 2006, that Islamabad was engaged in talks with China to purchase eight nuclear reactors worth US $7 billion, the Chinese media later disclosed Beijing's plan of signing an agreement to supply six reactors. Speculation in this regard has gained currency now that the two countries are to enter into a nuclear deal during the ongoing visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Pakistan.

Closure of the Pakistan-Based A.Q. Khan Network Case: A Hasty Burial?

April 2006

North Korea’s and Iran’s showdown with the US and the West on the nuclear proliferation issue are closely related to their dubious proliferation connections with the Pakistan-based A Q Khan network. Yet, Pakistan has announced that the case against Khan and his proliferation cohorts is closed. To comprehensively understand the nonproliferation challenges, it is crucial that the details about the network’s operations as also about Khan’s associates as well as their benefactors are publicly revealed.

Vote at IAEA Not Anti-Iranian But Pro-India

October 06, 2005

The Indian vote at the IAEA in Vienna last week has attracted considerable domestic attention and the fact that New Delhi went along with the US-EU position is being interpreted as a case of being anti-Iranian and furthermore, as a betrayal of the non-aligned block and Third World solidarity. This is invalid and the facts as they have emerged need to be carefully analyzed.

Reducing Nuclear Dangers after the AQ Khanspiracy

January 2004

The essay defines Pakistan’s brazen retailing of sensitive nuclear technologies as Bomb Process Outsourcing (BPO) and places it in a larger perspective. It offers a short retrospective of the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons by the P-5 in which significant manpower and materials were ‘foreign’. This is true of the programmes of Israel, Iraq, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil as well. Pakistan, has now, contributed to North Korea, Libya and Iran.