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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 17:06 GMT
Scientist 'sent uranium to Libya'
Buhary Syed Abu Tahir
Tahir said he had been involved in nuclear trades since 1994/95
Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan sent enriched uranium to Libya, Malaysian police have said.

Buhary Syed Abu Tahir - Dr Khan's alleged financier - said he was told in 2001 that the uranium was sent in a Pakistani jet, a police report says.

Mr Tahir, a Malaysian resident, also told police Iran paid Dr Khan $3m for used centrifuge parts in the mid-1990s.

The report also alleges that several European businessmen were involved in supplying Libya nuclear technology.

Around 2001, the nuclear arms expert informed BSA Tahir that a certain amount of UF6 (enriched uranium) was sent by air from Pakistan to Libya
Malaysian police report

Mr Tahir named British, German, Swiss and Turkish businessmen, who the Malaysian police are urging international authorities to investigate.

Two weeks ago, Dr Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology overseas.

He is still seen as a hero in Pakistan for instigating the nation's nuclear programme, and has been pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf.

But the Malaysian police report provided the first public details of how his network functioned, and shed new light on its reach.

'Cash payment'

Officers have been questioning Mr Tahir, a Sri Lankan businessman living in Malaysia, over his role in Dr Khan's network.

US President George W Bush last week called Mr Tahir the "chief financial officer and money launderer" of the black market network led by Dr Khan.

He has been under investigation since Malaysian centrifuge parts were found on a Libya-bound ship last year.

Malaysian police released a report into their investigation on Friday.

Their report said Mr Tahir is reported to have said a "certain amount" of uranium was flown to Libya in a Pakistani jet. He said he was told of this by Dr Khan around 2001.

A nuclear expert told the BBC that the amount of uranium involved - assuming the transfer did take place - would be crucial in determining its use.

Abdul Qadeer Khan
Khan has been pardoned for his role
He also said it was not clear whether the UF6 uranium in question had been enriched, a key stage if it was intended for weapons use.

The police report said that from what Mr Tahir "could recall", Libya contacted Dr Khan in 1997 "to obtain help and expertise in the field of uranium-enrichment centrifuge".

He also says an "unnamed Iranian" paid $3m for two containers of centrifuge units to be sent from Pakistan to Iran. Mr Tahir said he was asked to arrange this in the year that his involvement with Dr Khan started - 1994/5.

"The cash was brought in two briefcases and kept in an apartment that was used as a guesthouse by the Pakistani nuclear arms expert each time he visited Dubai," Mr Tahir reportedly said.

Malaysian police have said Mr Tahir obtained the components from Scope, part of a publicly listed company jointly controlled by the Malaysian Prime Minister's son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, and two other men.

The police report clears Scope of culpability in the case, saying that the company's management had no idea what the components would be used for.

The report's other findings include:

  • Several meetings took place between Mr Khan and representatives from Libya regarding Libya's aspirations to get hold of enriched uranium. These took place between 1997 and 2002 in Istanbul, Casablanca and Dubai

  • Most of the components were supplied by a series of European middlemen, some of whom are believed to have been aware of the components' potential use

  • There was also a project to set up a workshop within Libya to make centrifuge components which could not be obtained outside the country

  • Mr Tahir said the middleman in this project was Peter Griffin, a British citizen who was based in Dubai and has now retired to France, the report said. Mr Griffin's son, Paul, has denied their company had any involvement in shipping nuclear components to Libya.

  • Mr Khan's network also involved middlemen in Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jonathan Kent
"It's sure to keep the spotlight on Pakistan and Mr Khan for some time to come"



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