[ RadSafe ] "Switzerland Destroyed Nuclear Smuggling Papers" + links
Clayton J Bradt
cjb01 at health.state.ny.us
Thu May 22 10:34:28 CDT 2008
From Global Security Newswire 5-21-2008:
Switzerland Destroyed Nuclear Smuggling Papers
Switzerland destroyed documents in November that were related to the case
of three Swiss engineers who allegedly help supply equipment to Libya’s
nuclear-weapon program, Swissinfo reported yesterday (see GSN, May 26,
Friedrich Tinner was detained about four years ago with his two sons, Urs
and Marco, on suspicion that they had aided the smuggling ring once run by
former top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
One of the men remains in confinement as authorities investigate the case.
There have been rumors that the United States asked Switzerland to destroy
the documents to suppress evidence that the three men had worked with the
CIA, according to Swissinfo.
The shredding of the papers, confirmed by the head of a Swiss parliamentary
control committee, could undermine the investigation of the case while
eliminating evidence potentially useful for the defendants (Swissinfo, May
Swissinfo May 20, 2008 - 2:24 PM :
Papers on nuclear smuggling ring shredded
The government ordered the destruction of documents on an alleged
international nuclear smuggling network involving three Swiss engineers, it
has been confirmed.
The head of a parliamentary control committee said the material was
shredded last November.
The father and sons – Friedrich, Marco and Urs Tinner - are suspected of
helping to supply parts for Libya's nuclear weapons programme between 2001
and 2003 through a trafficking ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of
Pakistan's atom bomb.
Reports say the three worked as undercover agents for the United States
There is widespread media speculation that Washington asked the Swiss
government to destroy any evidence suggesting cooperation between the
engineers and the CIA.
They were arrested nearly four years ago. One of them is still detained in
Switzerland pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
Experts say the destruction of the documents could hamper the probe and
reduce the defence's case.
U.S. Ignored Swiss Prosecutor’s Calls for Assistance in Nuclear Smuggling
The United States has impeded Swiss efforts to prosecute three nuclear
smuggling suspects linked to former top Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer
Khan, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, May 31, 2005).
Friedrich Tinner, a mechanical engineer and Swiss national, is suspected
with his two sons, Urs and Marco, of providing the Khan network (see
related GSN story, today) with uranium enrichment technology and
equipment. Authorities also believe Urs Tinner helped develop a Malaysian
factory that produced thousands of gas centrifuge parts.
Switzerland’s federal prosecutor on four separate occasions in the last
year asked U.S. officials for documents and other evidence on the Khan
network, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.
“Swiss authorities are asking for additional assistance from U.S.
authorities, but we haven’t gotten an answer so far,” said Mark Wiedmer,
press secretary for the Swiss attorney general’s office. “We are confident
the American authorities will provide the information we need.”
The Swiss officials contacted the Justice Department, which has an
information-sharing agreement with Switzerland pertaining to international
criminal cases. They also contacted the State Department’s undersecretary
for arms control and international security, according to officials.
A top U.S. nuclear expert yesterday told a House International Relations
subcommittee that the U.S. government had “ignored multiple requests for
cooperation” on Khan network prosecutions.
“The prosecutors have not received a reply, or even a confirmation that the
U.S. government received the requests,” said David Albright, president of
the Institute for Science and International Security.
“I find this lack of cooperation frankly embarrassing to the United States
and to those of us who believe that the United States should take the lead
in bringing members of the Khan network to justice for arming our enemies
with nuclear weapons,” he told the panel (Joby Warrick, Washington Post,
U.S. Silence Impeding Swiss in Nuclear Case
Expert Says Calls Have Been Ignored
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006; A16
Two years after the United States helped disrupt a notorious nuclear
smuggling ring, the Bush administration has hobbled a Swiss effort to
prosecute three of the alleged leaders by failing to share critical
information, an American nuclear expert and Swiss law enforcement officials
Switzerland's federal prosecutor made at least four separate appeals for
U.S. help over the past year, asking for access to documents and other
evidence linked to the nuclear black market run by the Pakistani scientist
Abdul Qadeer Khan. In that time, the Swiss have received no assistance, or
even a reply, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.
"Swiss authorities are asking for additional assistance from U.S.
authorities, but we haven't gotten an answer so far," Mark Wiedmer, press
secretary for the Swiss attorney general's office, said in response to a
reporter's inquiry. "We are confident the American authorities will provide
the information we need."
The appeals were directed to the Justice Department, which has a bilateral
agreement with Switzerland on sharing information in international criminal
cases, and to the State Department's undersecretary for arms control and
international security, according to officials knowledgeable about the
requests. Calls to both agencies yesterday were not returned.
The problem was brought to light yesterday by a U.S. weapons expert who is
advising Swiss prosecutors on the technical aspects of the Khan case. In
testimony before a subcommittee of the House International Relations
Committee, David Albright said the U.S. government had "ignored multiple
requests for cooperation" in prosecuting members of the Khan network.
"The prosecutors have not received a reply, or even a confirmation that the
U.S. government received the requests," Albright, a nuclear expert and
president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the
panel. He said the lack of assistance "needlessly complicates" an
investigation of great importance to both countries.
Swiss officials are seeking to bring charges against three businessmen who
allegedly played pivotal roles in Khan's smuggling scheme. Swiss
authorities have arrested Friedrich Tinner, a Swiss mechanical engineer,
and his two sons, Urs and Marco, who are suspected of supplying the network
with technology and equipment used in enriching uranium. Urs Tinner is also
suspected of helping Khan set up a secret Malaysian factory that made
thousands of components for gas centrifuges, machines used in uranium
enrichment. Formal charges have not yet been brought against them.
Some of the components were en route to Libya by ship in December 2003 when
they were intercepted by German and Italian officials in a raid that
brought the smuggling ring to light. The United States, which provided key
intelligence that led to the intercept, heralded the breakup of the Khan
network as a major blow against nuclear proliferation.
In July 2004, President Bush viewed some of the components supplied by the
Tinners during a visit to the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National
Laboratory in eastern Tennessee. Bush called the Khan network "one of the
most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world" and attributed the
successful breakup to the efforts of "allies, working together."
Albright, in his testimony to the subcommittee on international terrorism
and nonproliferation, said, "I find this lack of cooperation frankly
embarrassing to the United States and to those of us who believe that the
United States should take the lead in bringing members of the Khan network
to justice for arming our enemies with nuclear weapons."
Germany Arrests Man In Libyan Atomic Case
Suspect Is Alleged to Be Middleman In Worldwide Smuggling Network
By Craig Whitlock and Shannon Smiley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 12, 2004; Page A17
BERLIN, Oct. 11 -- German prosecutors said Monday they had arrested an
engineer on suspicion that he helped Libya in its efforts to build a
nuclear weapons program, eight months after the man was named by
authorities in Malaysia as a key figure in a network that spread nuclear
secrets around the world.
The man was arrested Thursday in the central German state of Hesse,
according to the German federal prosecutor's office, which did not release
his full name. Officials close to the investigation identified him as Urs
Tinner, 39, a member of a Swiss engineering family that has drawn scrutiny
from European authorities and nonproliferation experts for more than two
In February, Malaysian officials identified Tinner as a middleman in a
network that supplied Libya with gas centrifuge parts that could be used
for the enrichment of uranium. That network, headed by Pakistan's top
atomic scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, allegedly sold nuclear secrets to
Libya, Iran and other customers and is the focus of a global investigation
by the International Atomic Energy Agency and authorities in more than a
According to German and South African officials, who carried out recent
arrests of alleged members of the network, those involved attempted to
illegally deliver high-technology engineering equipment to Libya for its
then-budding nuclear weapons program, drawing on companies in Germany,
Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.
Libya has since dismantled its weapons program under a deal negotiated with
the United States and Britain.
German prosecutors said in a statement that they were preparing to charge
Tinner, a Swiss citizen, with conspiracy to commit treason. A spokeswoman
for the federal prosecutor's office declined to elaborate or give details.
Swiss export-control officials said Monday that they recently completed an
inquiry into the business activities of Tinner and his family, based on the
allegations made in February by Malaysian police. In a telephone interview,
Othmar Wyss, spokesman for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs,
declined to discuss the findings but said the results were given in late
September to Swiss prosecutors.
"Let me say it this way," Wyss said. "If all this information . . . had
been false, we would not have passed the results of our preliminary inquiry
to the prosecutor."
A spokesman for Switzerland's general prosecutor confirmed Monday that the
agency had cooperated with German investigators in the nuclear black market
probe but declined to comment further.
In a brief interview in March at his home in the northeastern Swiss village
of Haag, Tinner said his family had not been involved in any wrongdoing. He
acknowledged working as a mechanic for a Malaysian firm, Scomi Precision
Engineering, but said he was unaware of what the company's products were
being used for.
The probe into the nuclear network began in October 2003, when a German
ship carrying containers bound for Libya was searched in the port of
Taranto, Italy. Inside the containers, investigators said they found
centrifuge parts manufactured by Scomi that they suspected were intended to
help Libya enrich uranium.
Tinner worked as a consultant for Scomi from April 2002 until October 2003
and had a reputation for being secretive, Malaysian officials said.
Upon leaving the company, he erased technical drawings from the firm's
computers and took other records, giving "the impression that [he] did not
wish to leave any trace of his presence there," according to a Malaysian
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Why wouldn't the US want to cooperate in prosecuting these guys? Valerie
Plame-Wilson was reportedly working on the AQ Khan network when she was
outed in July 2003.
Clayton J. Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net
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