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highsea
12-30-2004, 02:55 AM
I posted the entire article, because it requires a registration. This was reported last month, but I never heard anything about it. This is rather disturbing if you ask me...
[ QUOTE ]
Complete nuclear bomb plant earmarked for Libya found in South Africa

By Douglas Frant and William Rempel
November 29, 2004

Authorities hunting traffickers in nuclear weapons technology recently uncovered an audacious plan to deliver a complete uranium enrichment plant to Libya.

The discovery provides fresh evidence of the reach and sophistication of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's global black market in nuclear know-how and equipment. It also exposes a previously undetected South African branch of the Khan network.

Details of the plot began to emerge in September, when police found the elements of a two-storey steel processing system for the enrichment plant in a factory outside Johannesburg. They were packed in 11 freight containers for shipment to Libya.

South African officials will say only that they discovered nuclear components. It appears, however, that the massive system was designed to operate 1000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.

Once assembled in Libya, the plant could have produced enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture several nuclear bombs a year. Delivery of the plant would have greatly accelerated Libya's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Dr. Khan already had secretly shipped to Libya a supply of processed uranium fuel for the enrichment plant, international inspectors said.

An off-the-shelf enrichment facility was built for Libya because unlike other customers of the Khan network, such as Iran and North Korea, Libya lacked the technical expertise or manufacturing base to build the complex facilities necessary.

Some of the centrifuges for the plant were shipped separately from Malaysia, because the specialised steel needed was not available in South Africa. The interception of that cargo by US and Italian authorities in October 2003 led to the Johannesburg raid and spurred Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to renounce efforts to develop banned weapons.

In the September 1 raid, police found a video that detailed the workings of Dr Khan's top-secret government enrichment laboratory in Pakistan, plus trunks filled with designs from the lab.

The discovery of a South African connection to Dr Khan's web has led to four arrests, including some people who had been involved in the country's former nuclear program.

The processing system found at Tradefin, an engineering and manufacturing company in Vanderbijlpark, outside Johannesburg, had been designed and built over three years. It was then tested, dismantled and packed into 12-metre containers, factory records show.

Daniel Jacobus Van Beek, director of South Africa's counter-proliferation office, described the scheme as "one of the most serious and extensive attempts" to breach international nuclear controls. He estimated that the 200 tonnes of equipment was worth about $US33 million ($44.2 million).

Dr Khan, a German-trained metallurgist, used stolen designs and a shadowy network of European suppliers in the 1980s to enrich uranium for Pakistan's first atomic bomb. A decade later, he resurrected the network to sell nuclear technology on the world market.

Secrecy surrounding the Khan ring began to unravel last December, when Libya said it was giving up its effort to build an atomic bomb after the Italian coast guard intercepted the Malaysian-built centrifuges. Import and export records led US investigators in Libya to the plant in South Africa.

Tradefin's owner, Johan Meyer, 53, was arrested a day after the raid and charged with trafficking in nuclear technology.

He later implicated two associates, Gerhard Wisser, 65, and Daniel Geiges, 66.

Both have long associations with the company Krisch Engineering, which imported equipment for South Africa's nuclear program in the 1980s in violation of international sanctions, according to a sworn affidavit from Van Beek.

Los Angeles Times<hr /></blockquote>
link (requires registration) (http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/Complete-nuclear-bomb-plant-found-in-South-Africa/2004/11/28/1101577355249.html?oneclick=true)

Wally_in_Cincy
12-30-2004, 06:21 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> ...This was reported last month, but I never heard anything about it.... <hr /></blockquote>

The media were too busy covering important things, like the Scott Peterson trial.

Thanks for the article. That is quite disturbing that anyone with enough money can buy a turnkey system for enriching uranium.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, I think it's just a matter of time before some madman sets off a nuclear weapon in a major city. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but someday.