Washington: A US arms
control expert has made the astonishing claim that India may have
been the mysterious fourth customer of Pakistan's notorious
nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, dubbed father of Islamabad's
Journalist Joshua Pollack, a US policy wonk who has done work on
nuclear proliferation, makes the assertion of all places in
Playboy that Khan "provided the shortcut to a nuclear weapon" to
India besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.
The evidence he provides is pretty thin: "Only three countries are
known to operate centrifuge technology similar to Pakistan's. Two
of them, Iran and North Korea, are already accounted for among
"The third and last country on the list: India, Pakistan's foe,"
concludes Pollack, suggesting that it was "an overlooked
possibility, previously ignored because it seemed too absurd to
consider, but it might be the most compelling answer to the
Although India, which conducted its first nuclear test May 18,
1974, "had beaten Pakistan to the bomb, they had done so through
mastery of plutonium production - a different route to creating a
nuclear weapon," he said.
"India's ability to enrich uranium remained limited. New Delhi
started a centrifuge programme in the 1970s, but the Indians
weren't ready to break ground on their main enrichment facility
"By that point, Pakistan had been churning out weapons-grade
uranium for at least three years," Pollack claimed.
India's enrichment programme progressed slowly, but at some point
before 1992 the Indians began experimenting with supercritical
centrifuges, devices that can withstand very high rotational
speeds, he said.
Documents the Indians gave potential suppliers for centrifuge
parts "provide strong clues about where New Delhi's supercritical
centrifuge technology came from," Pollack said.
"Despite some changes, the design is recognisable to the trained
eye: It almost mirrors the G-2 centrifuge, a design that Khan
stole from URENCO in the 1970s and later reproduced as Pakistan's
P-2 centrifuge," he said.
Centrifuge specs are not the only apparent link between India's
enrichment programme and Khan's operation, Pollack claimed.
The cast of characters also overlaps, starting with Gerhard Wisser,
a German living in South Africa, who also supplied India's
centrifuge programme with specialised equipment, starting in the
late 1980s, he said.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)