Four Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDATE — Father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme dies aged 85.]

“There have been only two kinds of CIA secret operations: the ones that are widely known to have failed—usually because of almost unbelievably crude errors—and the ones that are not yet widely known to have failed.”

Edward Luttwak

Dr A. Q. Khan

May 3 2017 — If this story is a CIA success, what does a CIA failure look like? In his first public speech, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network. As often with Mike Pompeo, that statement needs a bit of “Facts Checking”. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo delivers first public speech at CSIS

RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo tells a whopper

RELATED POST: Dr A. Q. Khan: The Bomb, the Swiss and the CIA

RELATED POST: One Year Ago — Zbigniew Brzezinski: “An exceptional failure all round.”

“I saved the country for the first time when I made Pakistan a nuclear nation and saved it again when I confessed and took the whole blame on myself.”

Abdul Qadeer Khan — Agence France-Presse interview (2008)

UPDATE (October 11 2021) — Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered to be the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, has died aged 85.

On 26 August 2021, Khan was admitted to Khan Research Laboratories Hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19. On 10 October 2021, Khan died after being transferred to a hospital with lung problems.

“He was loved by our nation bec(ause) of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Twitter. “For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.”

“He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard,” Pakistani President Arif Alvi said in a tweet.

Khan was given a state funeral at the Faisal Mosque before being buried at the H-8 graveyard in Islamabad.

“History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon,” Napoleon said. “Even when I am gone, I shall remain in people’s minds the star of their rights, my name will be the war cry of their efforts, the motto of their hopes.”

These words certainly apply to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. The official story of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme is a myth. But do not count on the CIA or Pakistan to tell the true story… “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” [George Orwell]


“I don’t cry about it all day. A great injustice was done to me, but I don’t think about it much. When something like that happens, you have to make an assessment — maybe I am too sober — and go on.” 

Fritz Veerman (2020)

UPDATE (May 3 2021) — Five decades later, Dutch Authority absolves whistleblower — In the Seventies, Dutch technician Frits Veerman worked on a British, German and Dutch uranium enrichment programme at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory (or in Dutch: FDO) in Amsterdam.

Frits Veerman at his home in Huizen last month. He tried to blow the whistle on Khan in 1973 and later lost his job at FDO. “A great injustice was done to me, but I don’t think about it much.
Frits Veerman tried to blow the whistle on Khan in 1973 and lost his job at FDO.

Mr Veerman discovered that A. Q. Khan was a spy and he repeatedly reported the facts to the authorities.

For the reasons I have explained in this post, Khan was not arrested… But Mr Veerman was fired. And for decades after, he was harassed by security agencies to keep silent.

Mr Veerman was also put on an international watch-list and for many years was questioned by the authorities when he traveled abroad.

Five decades later, a report (July 2020) by the Huis voor Klokkenluiders — the new Dutch Whistleblowers Authority — finally absolves Mr. Veerman.

The report also helps explain why he and not Khan was punished.

New Documentary Series : “The Man Who Stole The Bomb”

Mr Veerman’s life story has been acquired by London-based Ten10 Films and Amsterdam-based Le Boxeur Films for a new series – ‘The Man Who Stole The Bomb,’ written by Nadeem Rajwani and produced by Joris van Wijk (Le Boxeur) and Tendeka Matatu.

Producer Joris van Wijk commented recently:

“We’re honoured that Frits has entrusted us with his remarkable story. I have had the privilege of getting to know him over the last six months, his relationship with Khan was one of a genuine friendship that was masterfully manipulated and spectacularly betrayed.”

“This [adventure in Afghanistan] will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski — Letter to US President Jimmy Carter (Dec. 26, 1979)

Monumental Error — According to Robert Einhorn, who worked on nonproliferation in the Clinton and Obama administrations, the CIA’s failure to stop Khan in 1975 was a monumental error.

This statement is quite incorrect. The CIA did not fail to stop Khan in 1975.

The CIA prevented the Dutch authorities to arrest him and they allowed him to export all the information he needed to build a nuclear bomb in Pakistan.

PS — Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.

The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates.

The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

In January 2020, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the latest it has stood since its creation in 1947.


“If Iran ever manages to destroy Israel, they could put on the weapons, ‘Made in Holland.’” Fritz Veerman (2020)

In his first public speech (April 13 2017), CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience — and the rest of the world — that:

“Our accomplishments generally remain classified, but a few special ones are known to the world.”

Unlike Walter Burke (The Recruit), Director Pompeo made no references to past failures, and that is perhaps all right.

But Pompeo also suggests that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network.

“For example, CIA has been a crucial player in the global campaign against nuclear proliferation.

We’ve helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.”

That statement is simply not true. In fact, it is documented that the CIA allowed Khan to build his network.

If it was not for the intervention of the CIA in the Netherlands, Khan would have been arrested first in the 70’s and then again in the 80’s.

“I was told to leave it to the intelligence services. The last word is Washington. There is no doubt they knew everything, heard everything. There is an open line between The Hague and Washington . . . It was very dumb.”Former Dutch PM Ruud Lubbers

CIA Resisted Khan Arrest in the Netherlands

Ruud Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister, revealed in August 2006 that the Dutch authorities came close to arresting Khan twice — first in 1975 and later in 1986 —  but the CIA requested that they let him act freely.

Dutch intelligence had suspicions that Khan was stealing nuclear secrets in the Netherlands.

Related Post: European Agencies: The Netherlands

They began to monitor Khan as soon as he arrived at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory.

However, according to Lubbers, the country’s security agency asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1975, then headed by him, not to act against Khan.

“I think the American intelligence agency put into practice what is very common there; just give us all the information. And do not arrest that man; just let him go ahead.

We will have him followed and that way we can gain more information.”

“The man was followed for almost 10 years, and, obviously, he was a serious problem.

But again I was told that the secret services could handle it more effectively,” Lubbers said.

“The Hague did not have the final say in the matter. Washington did.”

Lubbers suspects that Washington allowed Khan’s activities because Pakistan was a key ally in the fight against the Soviets.

At the time, the U.S. government funded and armed mujaheddin such Osama bin Laden.

They were trained by Pakistani intelligence to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan. (And we know how that one turned out.)

Anwar Iqbal, Washington correspondent for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, told “ISN Security Watch” that Lubbers’ assertions were correct.

“This was part of a long-term foolish strategy.

The United States knew Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons but couldn’t care less because it was not going to be used against them.

It was a deterrent against India and possibly the Soviets.”

The CIA did not help “unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.” The Agency made it happen.

Abdul Qadeer Khan: ‘My name is clear’  

“Our accomplishments generally remain classified, but a few special ones are known to the world.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo (April 13 2017)

UPDATE (May 3 2020) — On April 15 2019, Mike Pompeo participated in a Q&A discussion at Texas A&M University.

Pompeo could not resist telling his audience how proud he is to have served as Director of the CIA.

RELATED POST: Cholo Pompeo Gangsta Rap: “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal.”

One question and its answer speaks volumes about Mike Pompeo and his “Christian” principles.

“So I always begin with a deep understanding that no secretary of state gets through their first day without recognizing it’s a tough world out there. We don’t appreciate how glorious it is to be here in the United States of America on a consistent enough basis and with enough fervor. Maybe you do here at Texas A&M, but I think too many Americans don’t understand how blessed we are. These are – are many, many tough places out there.

Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a different set of challenges. I – it reminds me, you would know this as – it’s a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem sets, I – when I was a cadet, what’s the first – what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. (Laughter.) It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. (Applause.) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

Please, keep this in mind when you read this three years old post…


THE RECRUIT — A film review by Steve Rhodes

Swiss reject man’s $1 million damages claim in Dr AQ Khan nuclear bomb secrets case

Swiss Destroy Key A.Q. Khan Evidence

C.I.A. Secrets Could Surface in Swiss Nuclear Case

Book accuses U.S. and Swiss of nuclear cover-up

Swiss nuke smugglers who aided CIA avoid more jail

CIA Resisted Arrest of Nuke Tech Broker Khan


The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

One Year Ago — The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

Two Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

Three Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market

Three Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDADE — New Series : The Man Who Stole The Bomb]

Four Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDATE — Five decades later, Dutch Authority absolves whistleblower.]

Four Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDATE — Father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme dies aged 85.]

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