The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

“Our accomplishments generally remain classified, but a few special ones are known to the world.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Dr A. Q. Khan

In his first public speech, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network. Once more, this statement needs a bit of “Facts Checking”. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

In “The Recruit”, Walter Burke (Al Pacino) is a CIA trainer with a list of slogans that he uses to drill his operatives. According to the veteran spook:

  Rule number one  is: “Don’t get caught.”

Walter Burke also tells his students:

“Our failures are known. Our successes are not.”

In his first public speech, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience — and the rest of the world — that:

“Our accomplishments generally remain classified, but a few special ones are known to the world.”

Unlike Walter Burke, Director Pompeo made no references to past failures — that is perhaps all right — but also suggests that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network.

“For example, CIA has been a crucial player in the global campaign against nuclear proliferation. We’ve helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.”

RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo delivers first public speech at CSIS

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That statement is — again — simply not true. In fact, it is documented that the CIA allowed Khan to build his network. If it was not for the intervention of the CIA in the Netherlands, Khan would have been arrested first in the 70’s and then again in the 80’s.

RELATED POST: Dr A. Q. Khan: The Bomb, the Swiss and the CIA

Perhaps Edward Luttwak was not so far from the truth when he wrote that:

“There have been only two kinds of CIA secret operations: the ones that are widely known to have failed—usually because of almost unbelievably crude errors—and the ones that are not yet widely known to have failed.”

CIA Resisted Kahn Arrest in the Netherlands

Ruud Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister, revealed in August 2006 that the Dutch authorities came close to arresting Khan twice — first in 1975 and later in 1986 —  but the CIA requested that they let him act freely.

Dutch intelligence had suspicions that Khan was stealing nuclear secrets in the Netherlands.

Related Post: European Agencies: The Netherlands

They began to monitor Khan as soon as he arrived at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory. However, according to Lubbers, the country’s security agency asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1975, then headed by him, not to act against Khan.

“I think the American intelligence agency put into practice what is very common there; just give us all the information. And do not arrest that man; just let him go ahead. We will have him followed and that way we can gain more information.”

“The man was followed for almost 10 years, and, obviously, he was a serious problem. But again I was told that the secret services could handle it more effectively,” Lubbers said.

“The Hague did not have the final say in the matter. Washington did.”

Lubbers suspects that Washington allowed Khan’s activities because Pakistan was a key ally in the fight against the Soviets. At the time, the U.S. government funded and armed mujahideen such Osama bin Laden. They were trained by Pakistani intelligence to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan. (And we know how that one turned out.)

Anwar Iqbal, Washington correspondent for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, told ISN Security Watch that Lubbers’ assertions were correct.

“This was part of a long-term foolish strategy. The United States knew Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons but couldn’t care less because it was not going to be used against them. It was a deterrent against India and possibly the Soviets.”

The CIA did not help “unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.” The Agency made it happen.

Abdul Qadeer Khan: ‘My name is clear’  

REFERENCES

THE RECRUIT — A film review by Steve Rhodes

Swiss reject man’s $1 million damages claim in Dr AQ Khan nuclear bomb secrets case

Swiss Destroy Key A.Q. Khan Evidence

C.I.A. Secrets Could Surface in Swiss Nuclear Case

Book accuses U.S. and Swiss of nuclear cover-up

Swiss nuke smugglers who aided CIA avoid more jail

CIA Resisted Arrest of Nuke Tech Broker Khan

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The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

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