Home / Culture and Society / A Threat to Our Waters: the A.Q. Khan Network and North Korea

A Threat to Our Waters: the A.Q. Khan Network and North Korea

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Nuclearization is a key feature of any world superpower. Arguably, it indicates both the intellectual and economic might of any country capable of harnessing such energy. The problem of nuclear proliferation relates to the effectiveness of the sanctions and safeguards in place to curtail it. The process of limiting those countries already equipped with nuclear weapons and preventing others from acquiring such capabilities may be the most important preventive measures for international peacekeepers.

An October 2007 document from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated that: “The A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network, operated by the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, was the first private network to be run for profit rather than state purposes. The exposure of the network in 2003 illustrated how determined proliferators can effectively avoid export controls to acquire sensitive nuclear-related and dual-use technologies, which are technologies that can have both commercial and military applications.” (p.5).

Using dual-use technologies to cloak its intent to spread nuclear arms, the Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan network, headed by nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, sough to spread nuclear weapons. Most dangerously, however, it is suspected that the network sold centrifuge capabilities through the black market to North Korea. If these allegations have any basis, and North Korea did gain such vital intelligence from the A.Q. Khan Network, then North Korea's recent missile launchings present a grave threat to South Korea and the United States.

Furthermore, in recent days it has been alleged that North Korea may be smuggling weapons through various export channels. As discussed in the above quote, the A.Q. Khan Network was effective in subverting traditional customs channels under the guise of commercial enterprise. If the A.Q. Khan Network did successfully sell centrifuge capabilities to North Korea, it is also likely that it instructed North Korea of the necessary measures to smuggle and circumvent international customs.

The greater threat to international peacekeeping efforts and the attempt to prevent nuclear proliferation arises from the complications brought about by dual-use technologies. Clearly, one method of thwarting nuclear proliferation is to place stricter regulations on all technologies capable of being weaponized. The free market cannot be allowed total reign in this area. I would suggest that all corporations currently manufacturing such dual-use technologies be assigned a series of onsite government representatives working with corporate executives — around the clock — to ensure strict compliance.

Navies should increase their patrols of international waters. If nuclear intelligence and weapons are currently being smuggled under the guise of commercial enterprise, a nuclear threat is most readily realized from shorter-range water-to-land missile launches. As a nation, our weakest point is our naval defense. If we are to successfully thwart possible nuclear attack we must strengthen our naval defensive capabilities.

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About Jason J. Campbell

  • Ahmed-Rufai

    Your insightful thoghts have made my date about the World in which we are.

  • Thanks everyone. I wish I could participate as much as I had in the past. I’ll be moving next week and soon I’ll be back…there’s lots that you’ve written that I’ve been wanting to read as well.

  • STM

    You show me yours and I’ll show you mine 🙂

  • Bliffle

    Good article about an important subject.

  • See, Archie, not all “liberals” are good-for-nothing losers. Jason, for one, ain’t one. And his response to a nuclear threat is much more cogent and on-target, I daresay, than lame protestations on the part of some of your admirers (like Dan Miller’s, for instance).

    So don’t lump us all in the same category, Archie. Try to be discriminate.

  • Bliffle

    IIRC, SDI is actually being implemented, even though they don’t have a configuration planned that will actually work.

    Personally, I prefer Boost Phase Intercept (BPI) that intercepts an ICBM within 300 seconds of launch. The idea is to kill the missile before it becomes manoeuvrable, probably over the enemies own territory.

  • Yay! Look who’s back! I’ll read you later. Just wanted to note my enthusiasm.

  • Arch Conservative

    We need to revive SDI.

  • At least you’re suggesting a course of internationally-based action, unlike some of the pundits from the other side of the aisle who happen to think that a rebuke or a show of condemnation will suffice. Do feel free to check out some of the arguments criticizing Obama for “not doing enough.” You should find them eye-opening.

    Anyways, I’m glad you’ve finally gravitated to the Politics section. For better or worse, this is where you belong.


  • Great to see you back, Jason.
    Check out some of my pieces, and I’ll check out yours.