Thursday, January 05, 2006

Did Anybody Look In Sudan?

From South Africa's Mail & Guardian comes this report that Sudan has been acting as a conduit for the clandestine movement of nuclear engineering equipment. Investigators have discovered that millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment which was imported in the three years before 2001 has disappeared.

A European intelligence assessment obtained by The Guardian says Sudan has been using front companies and third countries to import machine tools, gauges and hi-tech processing equipment from Western Europe for its military industries in recent years.But it says that Sudan is also being used as a conduit, as much of the equipment is too sophisticated for use in the country itself.

"The suspicion arises that at least some of the machinery was not destined for or not only destined for Sudan," the assessment says. "Among the equipment purchased by Sudan there are dual-use goods whose use in Sudan appears implausible because of their high technological standard."

Western analysts and intelligence agencies suspect the equipment has been or is being traded by the nuclear proliferation racket headed by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who admitted nuclear trading two years ago and is under house arrest in Islamabad.

Ah yes, Mr. Khan.

Investigators say the machinery has not been found in Sudan. Nor has it been found in Libya, since Tripoli gave up its secret nuclear bomb project in December 2003. Given Osama bin Laden's long relationship with Sudan, where he lived before moving to Afghanistan, there had been suspicions of al-Qaeda involvement. But the goods have not been found in Afghanistan either.

Hmmm. I'd say, look in Iran.

A senior international investigator confirmed that Sudan had been importing the material and that the transports had ceased in 2001.

While the Khan operation is a main suspect, Iran is also suspected of being behind the Sudanese dealings."There is the Khan network and then there is a much bigger network in this, and that is the Iranian network," the investigator said.On Wednesday, The Guardian reported that the same European intelligence assessment -- which draws on material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies -- concluded that the Iranian government had been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to build a nuclear bomb.


Something is a little amiss here. There is clear evidence that, in 1993, Osama bin Laden and Mamdouh Mahmud Salim approached Sudan in an attempt to purchase highly-enriched uranium. The deal turned out to be Sudanese scam, but it had been highly suspected at the time that fissionable material had been trans-shipped through Sudan, as early as 1991, to Libya.

So let's see now: Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Osama bin Laden, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. Iraq isn't in the equation.

Mamdouh is arrested in Germany in September 1998 in relation to US embassy bombings. (I could lay out an amazing list of names and some interesting FBI screw-ups here, but we'll do that another time.)

No weapons or weapons material found in Afghanistan. No weapons found in Iraq. Osama bin Laden never captured or confirmed killed.

Nice shootin', cowboy!

Perhaps we could get David Frum to amend his Axis of Evil list.

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