Dr AQ Khans British investigator being probed

January 12th, 2008 - 6:40 pm ICT by admin  

London, Jan 12 (ANI): Atif Amin, a British customs agent, who investigated the nuclear smuggling network of disgraced Pakistani scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, has himself become the target of a British criminal probe after being prominently featured in a book by American researchers on Pakistans nuclear bomb.

The British media has refused to let this issue die though the case surfaced here last month.

The Guardian has once again taken the government to task on Friday that how the government was trying to use the Official Secrets Act to stop the leakage, which might put it in a difficult position.

Earlier, it was reported that British authorities with warrants, alleging violations of the countrys Official Secrets Act, searched Atif Amins house and car.

The action came less than two months after the publication of America and the Islamic Bomb, which chronicles Amin’s efforts to uncover the Khan network in 2000, more than three years before the US and British intelligence officials broke up the smuggling ring.

The book’s authors, David Armstrong and Joseph Trento, contend that Western intelligence agencies knowingly allowed the smuggling ring to operate for years before moving to shut it down.

During this interlude, Khan passed nuclear parts and know-how to Iran, North Korea and Libya, the authors contend.

US officials familiar with the case have acknowledged that the Bush Administration confronted Pakistan about Khan’s activities in 2003, the Dawn reported.

Its a story Washington and London do not want out, said Armstrong, who, with Trento, works for the National Security News Service, a Washington-based non-profit organisation that hires investigative journalists to research security and intelligence topics.

If Amin can be discredited, it would distract the public from the fact that the US and Britain prevented the most dangerous nuclear smuggling operation in history from being shut down when the opportunity existed, he said.

In the book, Amin is described as the director of Operation Akin, a customs investigation that in 2000 began targeting Persian Gulf-based companies allegedly involved in the trafficking of militarily sensitive technology.

While working on the investigation in Dubai, Amin began tracing the flow of nuclear-related equipment through companies with ties to Khan, a Pakistani engineer and a key player in his country’s decades-long effort to build nuclear weapons.

In the spring of 2000, as Amin closed in on Khan at the centre of the smuggling operation, he was ordered to quit the case and return to Britain, the authors state.

The reason given to Amin for the abrupt change was that British and US spies, who were monitoring the network, were worried that his questioning would disrupt their operation and expose informants. (ANI)

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