Jan 292004
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

Did you know the cold war isn’t over?

No, in fact the secret swapping of intelligence and the black

market network it travels on is still dangerously alive today.

On Tuesday, Pakistani investigators concluded investigations

into two senior nuclear scientists who supplied Iran and Libya with

the intelligence and blueprints to manufacture equipment to enrich

uranium.

Last November the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

reported the construction of a gas centrifuge plant by the Iranian

government, after opponents of the current Islamic government in

Iran revealed the highly guarded secret. It also placed much

international pressure on Iran to open its doors to nuclear

inspectors, which it did last month.

The inspectors have since been able to determine that Iran

received assistance from Pakistani scientists who provided

classified designs and components for uranium-processing gas

centrifuge machines. These complex centrifuges machines are

designed to extract small amounts of fissile material from natural

uranium by spinning it at supersonic speeds.

The fissile material extracted from the centrifuges becomes

enriched uranium, which is used as nuclear fuel for power plants.

It can also be transformed into a more concentrated form known as

highly enriched uranium, which can be used to build nuclear

weapons.

According to the IAEA report, the centrifuge machines found in

Iran are covered with Pakistan’s fingerprints.

In the 1970s a Pakistani nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan,

now known as the father of the Pakistan bomb and one of the

scientists suspected of selling top-secret nuclear information,

stole centrifuge designs from the British, Dutch and German

governments.

In the decades following, Khan studied the designs and made

modifications to them constructing the machines to be more stable.

The centrifuge technology found in Iran recently has the same

modifications and capitalizes on the same technology found in

Khan’s designs, and at times even uses old, castoff parts from

outdated Pakistani centrifuge machines.

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is investigating Khan

and Mohammed Farooq, a senior scientist and high-ranking manager of

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons laboratory, for trading the nation’s

nuclear secrets for money.

The investigation has determined that real estate holdings along

with millions of dollars were transferred to bank accounts

controlled by the two scientists around the same time Iran was

gaining its nuclear technology.

Khan, who is a national hero among all ideological political

parties in Pakistan, most likely sold top-secret nuclear technology

to Libya and possibly to North Korea also, making himself and

Pakistan one of the world’s leading nuclear proliferators.

Musharraf, who hit politically unstable times after Sept. 11,

2001, has been put into a difficult political position. The Bush

administration has been increasingly reliant on Pakistan to aid in

the war on terror.

It is believed that Osama Bin Laden continues to trek back and

forth between the Pakistan and Afghanistan borders, putting the

administration in desperate need of Pakistan’s help if they want

any chance of capturing him.

Musharraf has been pro-America recently, in hopes of gaining

political favor with Washington and acquiring international aid.

Islamic hard-liners have rallied against Musharraf in defense of

the scientists however, believing that Musharraf is pandering to

the Bush administration and in turn making the scientists a

scapegoat.

These opponents believe the Pakistani government directed the

scientists in the late ’80s and early ’90s, before Musharraf took

office in 1999 after a bloodless coup, to sell the technology.

The protestors are probably correct in believing the Pakistani

government had every intention of selling nuclear technology to

other nations 15 years ago.

However, the fat bank accounts and extensive real estate

holdings of the scientists, almost all of which are not located in

Pakistan, give credence to the Musharraf government’s investigation

and probable indictment of the nuclear scientists.

The cold war has been a fading remnant of an era the world

outgrew and left behind almost 20 years ago. Sept. 11, brought an

awakening to United States, pushing the American agencies away from

cold war operations and has restructured intelligence tactics for a

new type of threat. But is the cold war really over, and is America

really safe from the threats many believe are outdated?

The IAEA has strong evidence supporting the belief that North

Korea leapfrogged many technological hurdles by buying intelligence

from Pakistani scientists. Many in America believe that North

Korea, who does not hide their developing and testing of nuclear

weapons taking place today, is the biggest threat to our

security.

At the very least, North Korea’s nuclear prowess is a major

global concern to the countries of eastern Asia, mainly South Korea

and Japan. If North Korea continues to develop nuclear capability

Japan might begin arguing that it must also go nuclear to protect

itself against the other nuclear powers in the unstable region.

If this occurs, then China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Russia

and Japan would all have nuclear weapons pointed at each other.

Soon, the uneasiness of the situation would lead to mounting

threats among each country.

It is unlikely that any of them would ever actually use a

nuclear weapon on the others, for fear they would be hit relatively

soon afterward. This paradox has a name – mutually assured

destruction.

It is highly unlikely a shot will ever be fired, but everyone is

still arming themselves just in case. Wow, all of this sounds

eerily familiar. Who exactly was it that said the cold war was

over?

Jason Kosena is the assistance campus editor for The Collegian.

He is a senior majoring in technical journalism.

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