‘US firm is part of nuclear black market’
VIENNA: An investigation of the black market supplying countries wanting nuclear arms has spread to more than 20 firms — some of them North American — the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief told The Associated Press on Friday. A senior diplomat identified one of the firms as US based. .
Requesting anonymity, the diplomat also said the Syria and Saudi Arabia are also being investigated as possible buyer nations, beyond Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea — the countries known to have been in contact with Pakistani scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and members of his alleged network.
But the diplomat, who is familiar with the Vienna-based IAEA told AP that beyond suspicions prompting a continuing investigation, “there has been no proof” on Syria and Saudi Arabia that would warrant them being reported to the IAEA board of governors.
In separate comments to AP, IAEA Director General Muhammad ElBaradei avoided specifics on the locations of the firms supplying the nuclear black market beyond saying there were “in over 20 countries, some of them in North America”.
The diplomat said at least one of them was in the United States. He declined to elaborate, saying the agency “was not yet at the bottom of that story”.
But he said what was known about that company shed new light on the activities of the network, known up to now for primarily supplying technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran as part of the process allowing them to make enriched uranium that can be used either to generate electricity or make weapons. ap