Monday, March 21, 2005

KHAN COMES CLEAN: NUKE WARHEAD SECRETS IN THE WILD

Nuclear investigators from the United States and other nations now believe that the black market network run by the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan was selling not only technology for enriching nuclear fuel and blueprints for nuclear weapons, but also some of the darkest of the bomb makers' arts: the hard-to-master engineering secrets needed to fabricate nuclear warheads.

Their suspicions were initially raised by the discovery of step-by-step instructions, some of which appear to have come from China and Pakistan, among the documents recovered last year from Libya. More recently, investigators have found that the Khan network had offered similar materials to Iran.

The secrets range from how to cast uranium metal into the form needed at the core of a bomb to how to build the explosive lenses that compress the core and start the detonation.