Khan-du fallout hits Canada

Fabian Dawson
The Asian Pacific Post
February 5, 2004

Hate to say it,
but we told you so!

On Jan 16, 2003, The Asian Pacific Post in an investigative expose reported that Pakistan’s nuclear hero, Dr. A.Q. Khan and at least five other Pakistani nuclear scientists were linked to an underground network trading in nuclear secrets. The story warned that the scientists and several others who were trained in Canada were selling their expertise to rogue nuclear nations like North Korea, Libya and Iran.

On Jan 20, 2003, The National Post newspaper, following up on the report by The Asian Pacific Post, quoted Ian Dovey of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, (AECL), saying the article appears to rely on rumours and innuendo and lacks sufficient evidence to support the allegations. “From what I have read, everything in there is unsubstantiated,” said Dovey.

On January 31, 2003, Shahid M.G. Kiani, the Deputy High Commissioner from the High Commission for Pakistan in Ottawa sent letters to the media denouncing the report by the Asian Pacific Post. “The allegations are factually incorrect, baseless and malign Pakistan and its nuclear program. Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state,” wrote Kiani adding the charge against Mr. Khan is absolutely false and part of a malicious campaign against a distinguished Pakistani scientist whose contribution to the country’s security has earned him the respect and admiration of the people of Pakistan.

On February 2, 2004, Pakistan fires Dr. A. Q. Khan from his government job after investigators concluded he made millions of dollars from the sale of nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and other countries. Several other scientists and individuals are investigated for being part of a clandestine nuclear K-mart. The fallout exposes the global nuclear program to damaging scrutiny. Khan this week in a 11-page confession said he shared nuclear know-how with Iran, Libya and other countries to further the Muslim cause.

Asian Pacific News Service

Feb 5, 2004

The sacking of Pakistan’s nuclear godfather Dr A.Q. Khan from a government job after investigators concluded he made millions of dollars in the nuclear blackmarket, should be the trigger for an inquiry into Canada’s secretive nuclear program.

Khan and dozens of other Pakistani nuclear scientists were trained and hosted by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, (AECL) – a 40-year-old Crown corporation that hoovers up C$100 million in taxpayer money every year to make and sell Candu reactors.

One year ago, when The Asian Pacific Post warned that the Canadian training given to Khan and others from Pakistan was linked to the clandestine development of weapons programs in Libya, Iran, Iraq and North Korea – the response from AECL was muted and sarcastic.

We wonder what AECL has to say now.

Last weekend, after pressure from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Pakistan’s National Command Authority chaired by President Pervez Musharraf, decided to fire Khan as a government advisor.

Investigators also found that the European-educated 67-year-old metallurgist had accumulated wealth not commensurate with his monthly salary of about C$3,000.

So far it has been revealed that the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb counts among his assets four houses in Islamabad, a palatial lakeside retreat in the nearby village of Bani Gala, shares in two restaurants and a hotel in Timbuktu, Mali, that he named after his wife, who is of Dutch ancestry.

Khan is reported to have spent a million dollars on his daughters weddings and set up family businesses as conduits to channel millions of dollars in contracts for his nuclear bazaar.

Investigators are now taking a microscope through his lifestyle which included a 50 million rupee program to publicize his achievements, his frequent first class trips abroad, and his lengthy periods of residence under an assumed name at some of the world’s most expensive hotels.

Canada’s relationship with Khan, and others like Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, a pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and a vocal admirer of the Taliban, who confessed he’d had several meetings with bin Laden before and after September 11 to discuss nuclear weapons, dates back more than three decades

The Candu was Pakistan’s first nuclear reactor, acquired in a deal like many other Candu deals, via heavily subsidized Canadian government low-interest loans.

Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who got his uranium enrichment expertise in Canada was among the first to run the Candu reactor named Kanupp or the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition to Mahmood, up to 50 Pakistani scientists and engineers were brought to nuclear facilities in Ontario and New Brunswick to be trained as plans for a second, Chinese-built reactor came online.

Many of those trained in Canada later went into Pakistan’s clandestine military nuclear program and helped divert plutonium from Kanupp into a weapons program, according to the Nonproliferation Review, a journal of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Others defected to seek more money according to a memo prepared by engineers of the CHASNUPP nuclear power plant, which was built with Chinese assistance in central Pakistan.

As for Khan, Canada and AECL simply ignored the fact that he stole blueprints from Holland in 1976 to transform uranium into weapons-grade fuel.

Despite the warning signs that Canadian nuclear expertise was leading to proliferation problems, AECL continued a strong and active relationship with Pakistan sacrificing caution for business.

This relationship continues till today under the auspices of the so-called Candu Owners Group, an AECL consortium.

Khan’s weekend sacking in Pakistan and the details emerging from the ongoing investigation provide proof that Canada’s nuclear promiscuity is fuelling the radioactive blackmarket.

AECL’s standard line that Candu reactors worldwide are subject to stringent international inspections to ensure byproducts do not end up as ingredients for a bomb-in-a-box, ring hollow in the wake of Khan’s descent from hero to zero.

Its mantra that AECL is in no way involved in the nuclear proliferation problem is anemic.

Canada’s public face as a global leader in the nuclear disarmament process is a façade which Khan and others are likely to destroy when their nuclear adventures hit the courts.

Hopefully, the fallout from that will shock Canadians into asking why billions of their dollars are being spent to make this world a more dangerous place.


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