At the tactical level, action was taken to interdict supplies of components moving from Khan’s manufacturing facility in Malaysia to Libya. The various stages in this supply chain had been tracked through intelligence reports. In October 2003, the BBC China, a German-registered ship carrying centrifuge parts, was diverted to Italy as part of a carefully-planned intelligence operation in co-operation with the Italian and German authorities. On the basis of the material found on board the BBC China, in November 2003 the UK and US Governments approached the Malaysian authorities to investigate a Malaysian company run by BSA Tahir. According to the official Malaysian police report:
His [Tahir’s] involvement . . . started in 1994/1995. That year the [Pakistani nuclear expert] had asked B S A Tahir to send two containers of used centrifuge units from Pakistan to Iran. B S A Tahir organised the transshipment of the two containers from Dubai to Iran using a merchant ship owned by a company in Iran. B S A Tahir said the payment for the two containers of centrifuge units,amounting to about US$3 million,was paid in UAE Dirham currency by the Iranians. The cash was broug ht in two briefcases.
At the strategic level, action was taken in co-operation with President Musharraf of Pakistan to stop Khan from continuing his activities. Khan subsequently appeared on national television on 4 February 2004 to:
. . . offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatised nation . . .
and admitted that an investigation by the Pakistani government:
. . . has established that many of the reported activities did occur,and tha t these were inevitably initiated at my behest.
Key individuals in the network have provided verification of the intelligence (for example, as indicated by the press release issued on 20 February 2004 by the Inspector-General of the Royal Malaysian Police after an investigation into BSA Tahir’s activities). The discovery of centrifuge parts on the BBC China bore out the intelligence on the supply chain. Libyan co-operation following Colonel Qadhafi’s decision to abandon his nuclear weapons programme has produced firm evidence that the intelligence on AQ Khan’s support for this programme was accurate.
The uncovering and dismantlement of this network is a remarkable tribute to the work of the intelligence agencies. As we looked at the reasons behind this success, several key points became apparent. First, a team of experts worked together over a period of years, overcoming setbacks and patiently piecing together the parts of the jigsaw. Although an element of luck was important in providing a breakthrough, this was not a flash in the pan. It was the result of a clear strategy, meticulously implemented, which included the identification of key members of the network and sustained work against their business activities. Secondly, there was close co-operation between UK and US agencies, with