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Why He Went Nuclear.
November 20, 2007 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Why He Went Nuclear. Before he was the infamous father of the "Islamic bomb," A.Q. Khan was just another midlevel scientist working at a research job in Amsterdam. Here, the story of how he betrayed his employer and set out to create a worldwide bazaar in lethal weapons.
posted by chunking express (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a good thing we made an example of Pakistan for their proliferation activities. Imagine what Iran would take away if we just sucked up to them and let their military junta gain unchecked power.
posted by mullingitover at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2007


Well, since most of these activities took place 20-30 years back its understandable the US isn't harping on them now. Mind you, there are all sorts of other reasons Pakistan probably wasn't the best ally on the WAR ON TERROR, but the US does love teaming up with military juntas.
posted by chunking express at 1:11 PM on November 20, 2007




You don't go to war with the allies you want or might wish to have, you go to war with the allies that will cash your checks.
posted by absalom at 1:19 PM on November 20, 2007


Actually, we pay them in cash.
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2007


Very interesting post, thanks. Also, WTF, Netherlands?

The Dutch made it easy for Khan to steal everything he needed.


Does Dutch not have a word for "top secret"?

Little in-joke there—just trying to piss off the Language Loggers who froth at the mouth when people talk about languages having words for things.
posted by languagehat at 2:16 PM on November 20, 2007


To be fair, he served some hard time under house arrest for a full day before Musharraf pardoned him.

More background from New Yorker (2004) and The Atlantic (2005).
posted by kirkaracha at 2:19 PM on November 20, 2007


Oh, and Khaaan!
posted by kirkaracha at 2:19 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know who else spoke adequate Dutch and very good German?

There’s a lot to villify Khan for, but yeah, a lot was mishandled then. I have to go with Einhorn on the “you idiots!” summary. The situation with Pakistan took a long ongoing concerted effort of serious foul ups.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 PM on November 20, 2007


My understanding is Dutch authorities were aware of his intent and were about to arrest him on multiple occasions, but decided not to when the CIA told them that they wanted to monitor him "in the wild" instead.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:34 PM on November 20, 2007


My understanding is that the entire Pakistani military is behind the nuclear arms project and that AQ Khan's "arrest" and "trial" were simply ruses to shore up continuing aid between Pakistan and the US for the war on terror. According to most, the deal was decided by Richard Armitage.
posted by parmanparman at 4:26 PM on November 20, 2007


All this hysteria about Iran getting the bomb. Listen, if they want the bomb, they have it. Materials are available to them from people like Kim Jong or the Russians or a dozen others. And if you think anybody can stop them with some precision airstrikes or other such bullshit, you're wrong.

They surely learned their lesson about putting valuable assets in the open, and are probably researching the bomb right now, at many different facilities many of which are probably undercover.

But if they get the bomb, will they use it? Nobody has yet, except the mighty USA. Not even Kim Jong.
posted by Sukiari at 7:02 PM on November 20, 2007


Sukiari: Nobody has yet, except the mighty USA.

Yeah, to stop a war in which the use of nuclear weapons didn't even rate the atrocity top ten.

Look, your feelings for the US aside, do you really want Iran to have nuclear weapons? Or a fundamentalist government of any stripe?
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:08 PM on November 20, 2007


in which the use of nuclear weapons didn't even rate the atrocity top ten

Is this really necessary to make your point? Because this is not the stable ground you apparently think it is.
posted by dreamsign at 12:13 AM on November 21, 2007


Mitrovarr, the US is way more scary than Iran or North Korea. The US is certainly way more eager to go to war than any other country on their Axis of evil list -- really any other country in the world for that matter. Ideally no country would have Nuclear bombs, but we're a little late for that. Really, the US, Russia, etc, should get back to that whole non-proliferation dismantling thing. Bush was fucking this shit up the moment he took office. The only thing I can remember of Bush's presidency prior to 9/11 was him pulling out of all these historic missile treaties with Russia. What a fucking idiot.
posted by chunking express at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2007




Mitrovarr: "...Or a fundamentalist government of any stripe?"

Yes, Mitrovarr, it would be frightening for a fundamentalist government of any stripe to have access to nuclear weapons. Who knows who they might go to war with and on what flimsy excuses they might use...
posted by bliss322 at 10:05 AM on November 21, 2007


bliss322: Yes, Mitrovarr, it would be frightening for a fundamentalist government of any stripe to have access to nuclear weapons. Who knows who they might go to war with and on what flimsy excuses they might use..

You think I like the current US government? Hell, they scare the crap out of me too. But that doesn't mean that more fundamentalist nuclear nations are a good thing - and Iran has more and worse fundamentalists than the US does by a long shot.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:27 PM on November 21, 2007


"Yeah, to stop a war in which the use of nuclear weapons didn't even rate the atrocity top ten."

Because you were obviously asleep last year, we used the Bomb on a Japan that was ready to surrender, to scare Stalin. Not to save lives.

"Look, your feelings for the US aside, do you really want Iran to have nuclear weapons? Or a fundamentalist government of any stripe?"

I love my country. I just think it's run by madmen and fools. And as far as Iran getting the bomb, they have the same right to self-determination that we do. Unless you advocate viewing them as some kind of sub-humans who need to be caressed and guided into doing what we know is right for them.

You're what's wrong with America. You have no right at all to decide the fate of Iran, and neither does George Bush.

Besides, we couldn't stop them if we wanted to, IF they were seeking the bomb. Unless you advocate precision bombing the entire surface of Iran?
posted by Sukiari at 5:04 PM on November 28, 2007


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