Since I just blogged about Iran I’m thinking what does it say about American intelligence abilities that some of the best information on Iran’s nuclear program and, for that matter, Khan’s network, has come from private sources. Now I’ve got nothing against private sources; in fact, I’ve long been a huge proponent of increased reliance on OSINT. But it does raise the issue of how effective and interested the US government is in taking out clandestine nuclear trafficking networks.
For example, let’s look at what the estimable Mark Hibbs wrote in this January 18 2007 Nucleonics Week article:
Not until about 1999 did US government departments reach a consensus that Abdul Qadeer Khan in Pakistan was personally engaged in assisting the uranium enrichment program in Iran, well-placed sources told Platts this week.
Agreement that Khan was responsible for this activity was possible only after about 10 years of interagency analysis and debate of intelligence findings that were compiled in Pakistan and Iran beginning around 1988, the sources said.
Intelligence sources told Platts in January 2003 that the Khan Research Laboratories, or KRL, responsible for Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program, had provided the technological basis for a centrifuge enrichment project in Iran (NW, 20 Jan. ‘03, 1). Pakistan initially denied the allegation but Khan admitted it in 2004 (NW 5 Feb., 9).
I know the wheels of government grind slowly, but 10 years? What are the Feds doing; trying to set a Guinness World Record for procrastination?