by Felix Quigley
18 July, 2008
On June 23, 2008 DEBKAfile carried the following report which deals with the Khan family who it is suspected have passed on vital information about how to create a nuclear bomb to place on a rocket to Iran.
The article was headed “Iran Has Technology for a Nuclear Warhead to Fit Shehab-3 Missile”.
[begin DEBKAfile report here]
Some Western military and intelligence were shocked to learn that Iran had the blueprints for making a nuclear warhead that could fit onto its Shehab-3 missiles. The discovery was released by the former UN weapons inspector, David Albright, Sunday, June 16, ahead of the report on his investigation of the nuclear smuggling ring run by the father of the nuclear bomb . He alleged that the nuclear blueprints passed to , Iran and included “previously undisclosed designs for a compact warhead that could fit on Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles.”
On May 22, Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, disclosed that, last December, the destruction had been ordered of a batch of 30,000 documents detailing construction plans for nuclear weapons, gas ultra-centrifuges to enrich weapons-grade uranium and guided missile delivery systems , evidence in a criminal case of a Swiss family of three engineers involved in the Khan ring.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive sources disclosed on May 30 that these nuclear blueprints were sold in underhand deals to those countries – and possibly also to al – in the second half of the 1990s. has therefore had those designs for between 10 and 13 years.
This discovery makes nonsense of the supposedly definitive judgment in Western and Israel intelligence that Iran lacks the technology for building a nuclear missile delivery system. Because of these estimates, Western governments have been able to keep their sanctions-cum-diplomatic track with Iran rolling as though tomorrow would never come…(my emphasis Felix Quigley)
It is now evident that not only and Iran have known for some time how to build and deliver a nuclear warhead, but unknown recipients of A.Q. Khan’s merchandise, including terrorist organizations, may also command hazardous nuclear knowledge.
The three Swiss engineers, members of the Tinner family, are the father, Friedrich, whose ties with Khan went back decades, and his sons, Urs and Marco.
The Khan ring set up marketing headquarters in and . The brothers have awaited trial for four years in a Swiss jail. Their father is out on bail and confined to Switzerland. The evidence against Urs Tinner, the hard disk he stole containing the incriminating nuclear documents, has now been destroyed by the Swiss authorities under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military experts reported on May 30: If Urs Tinner, a small cog in the Khan network, was able to steal a hard drive containing a mass of the network’s nuclear secrets, three conclusions are inescapable:
1. That Khan did not retain an efficient security system for the data he was selling. Therefore, his system was full of holes and his confederates and agents, whether employed on the technical or marketing side of the business, were able to help themselves to documents, diagrams and other illicit nuclear materials that were put on sale and, perhaps, go into business on their own.
2. It is an open secret among the American and Western intelligence services involved in uncovering the Khan ring that large sections are still going strong out in , the and the Middle East through channels still unexposed. They are bound to assume that the documents destroyed by the Swiss government may exist in copies still in circulation.
3. Some of their holders may have hung onto them for the last four or five years and then destroyed them when the Khan ring was exposed, for fear of being linked to the trafficker. On the other hand, it is possible that some of A. Q. Khan’s agents and accomplices sold his nuclear plans and secrets to terrorists linked to al .