The A.Q. Khan nuclear black market network not only proliferated uranium enrichment technology, but also designs for nuclear warheads small enough to be fitted to a ballistic missile, it has been reported.
Khan’s network was shut down in 2004 under pressure from the US. Khan is considered the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and widely regarded as a hero for helping that nation develop the bomb.
He was placed under house arrest under a deal with President Pervez Musharraf. Khan claimed full responsibility for the clandestine network, saying that he acted alone without he knowledge of the Pakistan government, and, in return, he was not charged with any crimes.
Khan has recently recanted his earlier testimony, however, and claimed that he was a scapegoat for the Pakistan government.
The claim that Khan was a rogue was never credible. As I wrote in December of last year, long before his recent recant, “What became apparent was that Washington had struck yet another deal with Pakistan in which it would agree to Khan being made a scapegoat in exchange for Pakistan’s continuing ostensible support in the ‘war on terrorism’. Musharraf denied that the proliferation network had any official sanction and Khan echoed the official line and claimed all responsibility. For his part, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf. Pakistan avoided heavy international criticism and sanctions for nuclear proliferation. And Washington was saved yet another major embarrassment.”
The US had looked the other way as Pakistan worked on the development of a nuclear weapon during the Soviet-Afghan war, when the CIA worked closely with Pakistan’s ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen. Khan had long been under the eye of intelligence agencies suspicious of his proliferation activities.
Pakistan is not a member of the non-proliferation treaty and the IAEA does not oversee its nuclear program.