Remembering A.Q. Khan, the Man Who Gave the World Its Nuclear-Proliferation Problems

On October 10, A.Q. Khan died in Islamabad of complications related to a coronavirus infection. More than any single individual, he contributed to the acquisition of advanced nuclear technology by dangerous and unstable nations. Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker write:

In the early 1970s, Khan, a metallurgical engineer, exploited his employment at a Dutch company . . . to steal restricted gas-centrifuge-design drawings and documents. Khan later returned to Pakistan to lead Islamabad’s illicit procurement efforts to acquire components and materiel for a centrifuge program, taking advantage of weak European and Japanese export controls on nuclear dual-use equipment to achieve his goal. Khan’s efforts allowed him to rise in prominence within the nuclear weapons complex and, later, in Pakistani society.

Khan reportedly led Islamabad’s successful effort to develop atomic bombs fabricated with highly enriched uranium by 1984. Khan also realized that selling Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities to other countries would turn a handsome profit.

The A.Q. Khan nuclear-proliferation network relied on numerous corrupt companies, manufacturers, engineers, and businessmen worldwide. Khan and his agents grew key nodes of the network in Malaysia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The black-market ring used offshore manufacturing businesses, shell companies, opaque shipping methods, and illicit banking to facilitate the transactions.

By the time the United States and Europe endeavored to close down the Khan network in 2004, it had sold substantial nuclear equipment and assistance to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, and had reportedly approached others.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iranian nuclear program, Libya, North Korea, Nuclear proliferation, Pakistan


American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy