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Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Friday, 10 November 2006

The nuclear Walmart

Jane Corbin and Daniel Geiges

An engineer who worked inside the world's biggest black market nuclear network which supplied countries including Libya, Iran and North Korea with atomic knowhow and technology, has spoken exclusively to Panorama.

Daniel Geiges helped build a uranium enrichment plant in South Africa for Colonel Gadaffi's regime in Libya.

He told Panorama's reporter Jane Corbin: "I never had the slightest doubt what it was for.'"

Geiges was the project manager at the small engineering plant near Johannesburg called Tradefin which was commissioned by a network run by the rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Geiges's boss, Gerhard Wisser, was paid a commission of $4 million by Khan's network.

It became clear to Geiges that the plans, supplied and annotated by Khan, were for a plant which could enrich uranium to the highest level which is bomb grade.

Tradefin plant

He said: "We're talking about just under 24 kilos of highly enriched stuff in a year."

In the film Jane asks Geiges if it was enough for a bomb?

"Yes," said Geiges, "perhaps two if you get a good design."

He describes how two Arab men came to Johannesburg to check progress on the plant and then a cheque arrived from Libya.

When challenged by Jane about the morality of supplying Libya with this technology Geiges said: "What justifies America having more than 10,000 nuclear devices and not others?"

The three-storey plant was complete and ready for shipping when a joint M16 and CIA intelligence operation intercepted a ship carrying centrifuge plants to Libya in Autumn 2003 which bust open the Khan network.

Colonel Gadaffi, fearing the same fate as Saddam, came clean about his WMD programme and revealed what the Khan network had provided.

As the nuclear black market went into meltdown a text was sent to South Africa which read "they have fed us to the dogs. Destroy the bird, feathers and all!"

But proud of what they had built, the engineers at Tradefin ignored it.

The uranium enrichment plant was discovered in a police raid.

Geiges and his boss, Wisser, could face 15 years in prison if found guilty of proliferating nuclear technology but Geiges is unrepentant.

He told Panorama, "I shall just have to face the music as it comes."

Panorama: The Nuclear Wal-Mart was on BBC One on Sunday November 12 2006.


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