The network led by the Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan shipped partly enriched uranium directly to Libya aboard a Pakistani airplane in 2001, providing the fuel stock in addition to the designs and technology to make a nuclear bomb, according to a report by Malaysian investigators released Friday.
The report provides a wealth of evidence that businessmen and engineers from Turkey, Germany, Switzerland and Britain, as well as Dubai and Malaysia, were closely involved in recent years in Libya’s clandestine nuclear program. It is based primarily on the Malaysian authorities’ interrogation of B.S.A. Tahir, 44, a key middleman in Dr. Khan’s global nuclear trading network.
The shipment of uranium was one of many deliveries of nuclear components to Libya that began with a meeting in Istanbul in 1997 between Dr. Khan and Libyan officials, the Malaysian report says.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna confirmed in a report that Libya in February 2001 received a shipment that included 1.87 tons of uranium hexafluoride, a standard raw material for centrifuges to enrich uranium. The fuel required major further enrichment in order to reach bomb-grade quality, nuclear experts said. The amount was ideal for testing centrifuges but would also be sufficient to make one small bomb, they said.
The two reports make clear that Dr. Khan and his associates were directly involved in providing Libya with the essential weapons component that is also the most difficult to procure: the uranium fuel. In a confession in Pakistan this month, Dr. Khan admitted that he had secretly sent nuclear designs and equipment to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
Dr. Khan’s key middleman, Bukhary Seyed Abu Tahir, has been isolated under intense police investigation in Malaysia for many weeks. In a speech on Feb. 11, President Bush said the Pakistani network had sold uranium hexafluoride, but he did not say who the buyer was.
The report from the I.A.E.A., the atomic monitoring agency in Vienna, was obtained from a Western diplomat. It described a Libyan nuclear weapons effort that was more ambitious than previously known. Libya was not close to producing a bomb when it decided to disclose and abandon its nuclear program last year.
The international agency reported that Libya made a strategic decision in July 1995 to redouble its nuclear efforts. In 1997, it said, foreign manufacturers provided 20 pre-assembled centrifuges of the P-1 type, a model that Dr. Khan developed. Libya also obtained components for an additional 200 P-1 centrifuges.
The agency found that between late 2000 and April 2002, much of this gear was made ready for use. But then Libyan officials decided to dismantle and store it ”for security reasons.”
Starting in 2000, Libya embarked on a parallel effort to acquire more advanced centrifuges with rotors made of maraging steel, a superhard alloy, and known as P-2, also a signature design of Dr. Khan’s. They spin faster and enrich uranium faster.
Libya received two of the advanced centrifuges in September 2000, the atomic agency’s report said, and ordered 10,000 more, with parts starting to arrive in large quantities in December 2002. All were made outside Libya.
The report said Libya had received no more steel rotors, the heart of the advanced machine. It added, however, that Libya had acquired ”a large stock of maraging steel” to make centrifuge parts and that Libyan technicians had trained for such work at foreign sites on at least three occasions.
Private experts said 10,000 machines, if successfully completed, could each year make enough highly enriched uranium for about 10 nuclear weapons. But the report said Libya had been only in the planning stages and had produced no enriched uranium.
The report by the Malaysian authorities maps out in detail the supply lines leading to the Libyan program. It does not mention Dr. Khan by name, referring to him as the ”Pakistani nuclear arms expert” and ”Pakistani scientist.” It said Mr. Tahir met Dr. Khan when he visited Pakistan in the mid-1980’s and won contracts to sell air conditioning equipment to ”Khan Research Laboratory.”
Mr. Tahir said he personally attended the 1997 meeting here between Dr. Khan and a Libyan official, identified in the report as Mohamad Matuq Mohamad. The reference may be to Matuq Mohamad Matuq, Libya’s deputy prime minister, who heads the country’s nuclear program. During the meeting, the Libyans asked Dr. Khan to supply them with centrifuge units.
Mr. Tahir said he met with Mr. Matuq several other times between 1998 and 2002 in Casablanca and Dubai.
As a result, ”a certain amount of UF6 (enriched uranium) was sent by air from Pakistan to Libya” in 2001, the Malaysian report says. Mr. Tahir said he could not remember the name of the ”Pakistani airline” that carried the shipment, and the report does not make clear whether it was a civilian or military aircraft.
Pakistan’s information secretary, Syed Anwar Mahmood, declined to comment on the allegations in the Malaysian report.
The report confirms that a number of complete centrifuges were also flown to Libya direct from Pakistan in the year after the uranium shipment. It said the centrifuges were ”possibly” P-1 models.
Recent revelations about the Pakistani proliferation network have led at least four European countries — the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Spain — to open investigations into the activities of citizens implicated in the nuclear trade.
The Malaysian report detailed an undertaking called Project Machine Shop 1001, an effort to build a manufacturing plant in Libya capable of making centrifuge components that could not be obtained from outside the country.
Mr. Tahir told the Malaysian police that the project had been supervised by Peter Griffin, a British engineer who first began working with Dr. Khan in the early 1980’s. Mr. Griffin provided the plan for Machine Shop 1001 and a lathe, the report says. Machines for the workshop came from companies in Spain and Italy. Mr. Griffin also arranged for seven or eight Libyan technicians to go to Spain for training in operating some of the machines, according to the report.
Mr. Griffin also supplied an Italian-made furnace used in the refining of certain centrifuge components, Mr. Tahir said.
Mr. Griffin could not be reached for comment, but in recent weeks his son Paul has denied that he or his father had done anything illegal.
In 2001 Mr. Tahir signed a contract with a Malaysian company, Scomi Precision Engineering, to supply centrifuge components. Scomi officials have said they did not know the parts were for a nuclear device or for Libya. To oversee the production at Scomi, Mr. Tahir hired Urs Friedrich Tinner, a 37-year-old Swiss engineer. Mr. Tinner’s father, Friedrich Tinner, is a mechanical engineer who had dealings with Dr. Khan going back to the 1970’s. In that period, a Swiss company where Friedrich Tinner was export manager, Vakuum-Apparate-Technik, or VAT, came under scrutiny for shipping sensitive items to Pakistan.
Friedrich Tinner’s youngest son, Urs, worked with his father for some time and then moved to Dubai and later to Malaysia, according to Walter Haas, Urs Tinner’s brother-in-law.
According to the Malaysian report, Urs Tinner bought a Cincinnati Hawk 150 Machining Center and other machines from Britain and France through his father and elder brother, Marco, who owns a company based in Sax, Switzerland, called Traco. Urs Tinner installed the machines at the Malaysian factory, the report says.
While working at Scomi, Urs Tinner took measures to protect the blueprints ”to safeguard trade secrets” and hide any evidence of his presence, the report says. When he left Scomi in October 2003, he took the hard-disk drive with him that had the drawings, as well as his personnel file.
An e-mail statement released by Marco Tinner on Friday said that Urs Tinner worked at the Malaysian factory for about three years monitoring production of machine parts but that ”information about the end user or intended purpose of the goods was not at his disposal at the time.”
Raymond Bonner reported from Istanbul for this article and Craig S. Smith from Paris. William J. Broad in New York, David Rohde in Islamabad and Baradan Kuppusamy in Kuala Lumpur also contributed reporting.