Putin must not have seen this story when he said Iran not interested in nuclear bomb

Washington Post:

International investigators have uncovered evidence of a secret meeting 18 years ago between Iranian officials and associates of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan that resulted in a written offer to supply Tehran with the makings of a nuclear weapons program, foreign diplomats and U.S. officials familiar with the new findings said.

The meeting, believed to have taken place in a dusty Dubai office in 1987, kick-started Tehran's nuclear efforts and Khan's black market. Iran, which was at war with Iraq then, bought centrifuge designs and a starter kit for uranium enrichment. But Tehran recently told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it turned down the chance to buy the more sensitive equipment required for building the core of a bomb.

There is evidence, however, that Iran used the offer as a buyer's guide, acquiring some of the pricier items elsewhere, officials said.


Although the latest discoveries shed no light on Iran's current activities, diplomats believe they provide the most significant public information to date regarding Tehran's interest over the years in nuclear weapons technology and its possible intentions. The White House often focuses on those two areas when trying to explain why Iran should face greater international pressure.

After prodding by the IAEA, Iran turned over a copy of the offer last month. Its contents, along with details of the Dubai meeting, were substantiated in interviews conducted by the agency in recent months, according to diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.


Over the last two years, the IAEA has uncovered an 18-year-old nuclear program, which the Iranians began in secret and in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But because much of the equipment can be used for energy development and there is no evidence of past weapons work, the violations are technical and based on Iran's not reporting the program.


Diplomats believe the Dubai meeting was attended by as many as three Iranian officials, a Sri Lankan businessman named Mohamed Farouq who was friendly with Pakistan's Khan, and a German named Heinz Mebus, who was one of Khan's original suppliers. Mebus is deceased and Farouq's whereabouts are unknown.

Khan's network of nuclear manufacturers and suppliers stretched across more than 30 countries and sold goods to Iran, Libya and North Korea. He was put out of business in 2003, mostly as a result of the Iran investigation and the exposure of Libya's now-dismantled weapons program.

Farouq's nephew, B.S. Tahir, is in jail in Malaysia for his role in the network and its sales to Libya. Tahir was recently questioned by IAEA officials and by the CIA, U.S. and foreign diplomats involved in the Khan investigations said.

The article does not mention that former Iranian officials have said they would use nuclear weapons to destroy Israel.


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