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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Top Pakistani Official Linked to Nuclear Smuggling

A study conducted on behalf on the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency has concluded that a top Pakistani nuclear official was involved in an incident of nuclear weapons material smuggling in Canada more than two decades ago, The Electricity Daily reported today (see GSN, May 26).

Canadian court papers indicate that Anwar Ali, the new head of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, took part in a 1980 nuclear smuggling operation that led to three arrests. The report was written by nonproliferation specialists Leonard Spector and Haider Nizamani and published by WMD Insights.

A 1984 Wall Street Journal article says two commission members secretly came to Montreal in July 1980 to purchase components for Islamabad’s nuclear weapons program. Court records say the two officials were Ali and Imtiaz Ahmed Bhatty. The parts were bought from two electrical equipment stores in Montreal, repackaged and sent through the Middle East to Pakistan. Ali and Bhatty were not among the three men taken into custody in the subsequent probe, according to Electricity Daily.

Ali served as a director at the Khan Research Laboratories, according to the WMD Insights report. However, the report says he has not been accused of involvement in the black market nuclear dealings of former top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Ali has served on the Atomic Energy Commission for nearly four decades. Pakistani press reports credit him with developing computer codes and ultra-precision equipment for the country’s nuclear program and participation on the technical team that conducted Islamabad’s 1998 nuclear tests, Electricity Daily reported (The Electricity Daily, May 31).
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