Historien om Abdul Qadeer Khan er både historien om et usedvanlig menneske og om et konfliktfylt subkontinent, der sårene etter delingen og krigene fremdeles er så dype at lederne føler et psykologisk behov for atomvåpen.

I en videre forstand er det historien om hvor vanskelig det er å putte ånden tilbake i flasken. Atomvåpenteknologien er kommet for å bli, og det hemmelige nettverket Khan bygget ut og betjente, opererte i årevis før det ble avslørt.

Det er det egentlige tema for William Langewiesches uhyre interessante artikkel i siste Atlantic Monthly, den første av to.

Khan ble født i Bhopal i India i 1937, hvor Union Carbide i 1984 skulle forgifte tusener.

Det var gnisninger mellom hinduer og muslimer i Bhopal .

The two groups lived in wary but peaceful proximity, despite growing sectarian animosity elsewhere on the Subcontinent. Khan was one of seven children. His father was a retired schoolmaster of modest means, with a thin, severe face, a white beard, and a turban. He was a partisan of the Muslim League, and when visiting the bazaar would warn like-minded men of Mahatma Gandhi’s craftiness, and his ambition to annihilate the Muslims. These were of course common fears at the time, and they were reflected on the Hindu side as well. After World War II, as Great Britain rushed to withdraw from its burdensome colonial charge, and India’s factions deadlocked over a power-sharing arrangement, a partition was decided upon that would carve a separate Muslim nation, called Pakistan, from Indian soil. The new nation would itself be split in two, between the Muslim-majority area of the west, primarily along the Indus River, and a smaller Muslim area far to the east, on the delta of the Ganges, in Bengal. It was an awkward exit strategy, but better than trying to control a full-blown civil war. A British official was sent from London, and with no previous expertise in the region, he drew up the boundaries within a few weeks.

At the time of the Partition, in 1947, one of the greatest migrations in human history got under way, as over the course of a few months more than 10 million people — Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims — fled the hostility of their old communities and sorted themselves out in the new nations. They moved by train and bus, and on foot. In the absence of governmental power India’s social hatreds took form, and the migrants were attacked by mobs. The history is obscure and highly propagandized, but it seems that entire trainloads were massacred on both sides, that rape was rampant, and that several hundred thousand people died. In Pakistan perhaps seven million Muslims arrived, however traumatized.

Abdul Quadeer Khan was not initially among them: his parents chose to re2_kommentar in Bhopal, where their lives seemed comfortable enough. But the city was no longer really their home, and over the subsequent few years its Muslim residents endured increasing harassment by their Hindu neighbors and the Hindu police. Three of Khan’s older brothers and one of his sisters eventually left for Pakistan, and in the summer of 1952, having passed his matriculation exam, A.Q., at the age of sixteen, followed them there. He traveled across India by train, among a group of other Bhopali Muslims who were intimidated and attacked by Hindu railroad officials and the police. Jewelry and money were stolen from his companions, and people were beaten. Khan lost merely a pen, but the bullying marked him for life. The train ride ended at the border town of Mona Bao, beyond which lay a five-mile stretch of barren desert, and Pakistan. Zahid Malik describes Khan’s crossing in the style of a founding epic. Carrying his shoes and a few books and belongings, the young A. Q. walked barefoot across the blistering sands to arrive at last in the Promised Land. He went to live with one of his brothers in Karachi. His mother arrived soon afterward. His father stayed in Bhopal, and died there some years later.

Delingen, som betød at millioner måtte rykkes opp med roten, var uhyre traumatisk. Siden vi her snakker om henholdsvis 900 millioner og 150 millioner mennesker, er det maktpåliggende å kjenne folkenes historie. Pakistan har aldri lykkes å få et stabilt styre, langt mindre et demokrati. Denne konstante usikkerheten, og følelsen av underlegenhet overfor India, er noe å huske på, også i omgangen med norske pakistanere.

I vår tid har vi fått uttrykket «failed state». Pakistan var et demokrati en stakket stund. Landet tapte den første krigen med India om Kashmir, og var fast bestemt på revansj. Man får følelsen av et land som har valgt feil kurs og har holdt fast på den, med til dels katastrofale følger.

Pakistan had drawn the wrong lessons from its battlefield loss. It was born a poor nation and could not afford war, but its people hated India, and its military was on the rise. In 1958, on the pretext of threats to the nation, the army of Pakistan overthrew the democratic government and declared martial law.

Den ytterste nasjonale ydmykelsen var da Øst-Pakistan gjorde opprør i 1971. Samantha Power kan fortelle at den pakistanske hæren drepte mellom en og to millioner bengalere, og voldtok 200.000 kvinner! Likevel foretok ikke USA seg noenting. Den gang var India i den alliansefrie leiren, med vennskapelige bånd til Moskva, og Pakistan var en «proxy». Men 20 amerikanske diplomater i Øst-Pakistan og ni på Sørøstasia-desken i State Department protesterte mot passiviteten. Mellom en og to millioner er ganske mange mennesker. Hvor mange av oss vet dette idag?

India intervenerte til slutt, som en humanitær gest. Men slik ble det ikke oppfattet i Vest-Pakistan, da 93.000 soldater overga seg i desember 1971.

In the spring of 1971, after years of discriminatory treatment by Pakistan’s dominant west, East Pakistan rose up in rebellion and began to agitate for independence as a new nation, called Bangladesh. The Pakistan military reacted brutally, and a terrible civil war broke out on the Bengali deltas and plains. The fighting went on inconclusively for most of the year, generating huge casualties among civilians and sending several million refugees streaming across the borders into India. Pakistan’s international reputation sank to an all-time low. Having gauged the geopolitical effect of this correctly, and emboldened by its friendship with the Soviet Union, India then seized the opportunity to dismember its foe, and mounted a full-scale invasion of East Pakistan with overwhelming force. The battles were short. Pakistan’s once strutting army collapsed, and in December of 1971, at a humiliating ceremony in a stadium in Dacca, it unconditionally surrendered. Ninety-three thousand Pakistani soldiers were taken prisoner. For what it’s worth, an independent Bangladesh was born.

Det var dette nasjonale nederlaget og ydmykelsen som fikk Pakistan til å se seg om etter en atombombe. Bare et slikt ultimativt våpen kunne virke avskrekkende og gjenreise noe av æren.

One month after the surrender of Pakistan’s army in Bangladesh he (landets leder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) called a secret meeting of about seventy Pakistani scientists under an awning on a lawn in a town in the Punjab. He asked them for a nuclear bomb, and they responded enthusiastically, promising delivery within an impossible five years. The largest obstacle, as usual, would be not with the design of a nuclear device but with the acquisition of the fissionable material to fuel it.

Bhutto visste at India i lang tid hadde arbeidet med å skaffe seg atomvåpen, og i mai 1974 foretok inderne den første underjordiske prøvesprengningen. Indira Gandhi fikk kodemeldingen: «Buddah smiler».

Khan befant seg på den tiden i Nederland, hvor han arbeidet for konsulentselskapet FDA, som arbeidet innen atomsektoren. De arbeidet for det mye større URENCO, som var et samarbeid mellom Storbritannia, Nederland og Tyskland. Khan befant seg midt i smørøyet, da tanken om atombomben oppsto nærmest av seg selv i hodet hans.

Khan var en meget driftig mann. Han skrev til landets nye leder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto og fortalte hva han satt på av muligheter. De møttes i Karachi i desember 1974 og Khan fikk grønt lys. Nå startet en systematisk innsamling av tegninger og prøver av sentrifuger som er avgjørende for anriking av uran. Den pakistanske ambassaden i Haag var også behjelpelig. Khan mobiliserte uvitende arbeidskamerater til å hjelpe seg. Han holdt på i ett år, før myndighetene henvendte seg til arbeidsgiveren og lurte på hva som foregikk. I desember 1975 tok Khan med seg kona Henny og de to barn hjem «på ferie». De kom aldri tilbake.

He had succeeded by then in stealing the plans for the most advanced uranium-enrichment process known to the West. Such was the appearance of normalcy, however, that neither URENCO nor FDO quite woke up to what had happened.

Khan hadde spilt med åpne kort. Det var vanskelig å tro han var spion. Kontrollen hos FDO og URENCO var dårlig. Khan kunne fortsette å bestille dual-use utstyr fra Pakistan, og som regel slapp det gjennom. Firmaene i Europa var ivrige etter å gjøre business, og presset sine regjeringer. Det var verre i USA.

They knew that Khan was now involved in a large government project in Pakistan, probably in the construction of centrifuges. Nonetheless, they continued to communicate with him, and in 1977, having sent a representative to Islamabad, they went so far as to sell him expensive instrumentation originally designed for urenco.

Det viktigste aktivum Khan hadde skaffet seg, var kontaktnettet fra jobben i Nederland. Ingen spørsmål ble stilt når han ga ulne begrunnelser.

Khan’s solution, once he returned to Pakistan, was to buy the technology in bits and pieces from manufacturers and consultants in the West. He knew where to shop because he had kept names and addresses from his years in Europe, and he knew who might provide what, and why. Later he bragged that it was this knowledge, and not his so-called theft of designs, that counted most in enabling Pakistan to build the bomb. The market he worked was gray rather than black, because with few exceptions the equipment and materials he sought had multiple uses, and usually would trigger questions only if a nuclear purpose was openly declared. For the most sensitive items Khan used front companies, false end-user certificates, and third-country destinations to obscure the intended use; but generally he or his agents simply went out and bought the stuff.

I juli 1976 opprettet Khan sin egen forskningsstasjon i Kahuta, en fjerntliggende by sør for Islamabad, som det var lett å skjerme. CIA og Washington var godt informert. Khan Laboratories, som det senere ble døpt, fikk med tiden 10.000 ansatte. USA prøvde å overtale Pakistan til å avstå fra atomvåpen, uten hell. Washington ble alarmert av uttalelser fra Bhutto som snakket om en «islamsk bombe».

Such an outcome seemed all the more worrisome in Washington, D.C., because Bhutto had resentfully mentioned Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Communist bombs, and the possibility therefore existed that a Pakistani device would amount to more than a counterbalance to India—that it would be handled as a «Muslim» bomb to be spread around. Apparently other countries had the same idea, though with hope rather than fear: Libya and Saudi Arabia, for example, are both suspected of having funded Khan early on, probably with the expectation of a return.

Europeisk antiamerikanisme og grådighet

Hvis en boikott eller forbudslinje skal håndheves, må den ha støtte nedover i byråkratiet. Det hadde ikke ikke-spredningsavtalen i Europa. Langewiesche kan fortelle at motvilje mot amerikansk hegemoni bidro til at de lukket øynene for eksport av dual-use teknologi.

The export-control record was altogether different in Europe, where constellations of companies were selling their wares to the Pakistanis, often with the tacit or explicit approval of their governments. In a breathless but generally reliable book titled The Islamic Bomb, published in 1981, the reporters Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney tell a typical story of three of Khan’s purchasing agents, who in 1976 went to a small Swiss company in a small Swiss town and proposed to buy its specialized high-vacuum valves for the express purpose of equipping a Pakistani centrifuge enrichment plant. The company dutifully checked with the Swiss authorities, who sent back a printout of their export regulations, including the list of restricted items as defined by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Complete centrifuge units were listed, and could only be exported to [IAEA] safeguarded facilities, which the Pakistani enrichment plant was not. High-vacuum valves were not listed, even if expressly intended for a centrifuge enrichment unit. The valves might be necessary to the centrifuge. But, in the logic of the … list, they were not «nuclear sensitive,» and did not directly separate the two different uranium isotopes, uranium 235 and uranium 238.
The company, in other words, was informed that it could proceed with the sale, and so it did—as did others throughout Western Europe. In Holland, also in 1976, a Dutch company in the automotive-transmission business sold 6,500 high-strength steel tubes to Pakistan—tubes that could serve as the basic components of centrifuges. The Dutch government knew of the deal and advised against it, but the company sent their product anyway (initially claiming that the tubes were for agriculture), and argued that no export license was required by Dutch law. The argument was accepted, and further shipments went through without delay. Ultimately there were several paltry prosecutions, including one that led to the conviction of a Dutch businessman named Henk Slebos for illegally exporting an American-made Tektronix oscilloscope in 1983. Slebos was a personal friend of Khan’s, and one of his 2_kommentar European suppliers. He was sentenced to a year in prison, but never served the time, and continued brazenly to send equipment to Pakistan. Controls were so loose that for more than a decade Khan himself kept visiting Europe.

Invasjonen av Afghanistan i desember 1979 endret spillet. USA hadde ikke lenger råd til å motsette seg Pakistans planer. Khan ble latt i fred. I 1986 var Pakistan en atommakt, og Zia ul-Haq kunne lene seg over mot Rajiv Gandhi under en cricket-match og si: -Hvis dine soldater trår så mye som en centimeter inn på vårt territorium, kommer vi til å utslette deres byer.

Da russerne trakk seg ut i 1989, kunne USA avblåse skuespillet om at Pakistan var atomfritt, og gjenoppta presset. Bistanden ble innstilt. Det gjorde Khan bare mer motivert. Religiøse og politiske motiver glir sammen, og det er interessant at Allah og behov for selvhevdelse nevnes samtidig:

For Khan the sanctions were a point of pride. He had never been particularly religious, but his position was increasingly Muslim and hard-line. A Pakistani general asked him if he minded the descriptions of him in the West as an evil Dr. Strangelove, and Khan answered accurately enough: «They dislike our God. They dislike our Prophet. They dislike our national leaders. And no wonder they dislike anybody who tries to put his country on an independent and self-reliant path. As long as I am sure that I am doing a good job for my country, I will ignore all such insinuations, and concentrate on my work.»

I mai 1998 sprengte India fem atombomber. Indiske aviser hoverte. Pakistan følte de måtte svare. 27. mai ga saudiarabisk etterretning Pakistan beskjed om at israelske fly var underveis for å slå ut atomanleggene, akkurat som de hadde gjort i Irak. En kort stund var det panikk og fare for atomkrig, før USA, FN m.fl. fikk roet ned situasjonen. Det kom ikke noe angrep. Likevel følte Pakistan at de måtte svare på prøvesprengningen, og 27. mai prøvesprengte de 5 bomber, like mange som inderne, i et fjell.

At 3:15 p.m. a PAEC technician directly under Samar Mubarakmand, the leader of the test site, pushed the button, saying «Allah-o-Akbar!»—»God is great.» After a delay of thirty-five seconds (during which, it is said, some observers prayed) the mountain heaved, shrouding itself in dust. The command post rocked. When the dust settled, the mountain’s color had turned to white. In announcing the news Pakistan claimed a total yield that roughly equaled India’s, of course, because if it was to be a response in kind, the numbers had to match. Independent analysts downgraded the actual yield by a factor of three—but so what? As far away as Cairo people danced in the streets.

Det skulle vært Khans triumf, men han ble skjøvet i bakgrunnen. Nawas Sharifs regjering og hæren ønsket ikke at han skulle få æren alene, at han skulle bli for stor. Khan var allerede kjent som atombombens far blant folk flest. Det var han som hadde bygget sin fritidsvilla nær sjøen som var drikkevann for Islamabads to millioner innbyggere. Khan nøt immunitet. Nå ville lederne ha sin del av æren.

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