Published on International Relations and Security Network ISN, by Ken Egli in Zurich for ISN Security Watch, Mai 28, 2008.
The destruction of sensitive files on two Swiss members of the Khan proliferation network raises questions for Bern and eyebrows over CIA involvement.
Commentary by Ken Egli in Zurich for ISN Security Watch (28/05/08)
On 23 May Pascal Couchepin, a member of the Swiss Federal Council informed the public about the shredding of sensitive materials regarding the involvement of three Swiss citizens in the nuclear proliferation network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.
Invoking a constitutional article that enables the federal government “to issue ordinances and orders to obviate existing or imminent great disturbances of the public order, the external or the inner security,” the Federal Council justified the destruction of the files by citing the existence therein of technological secrets that could be dangerous if they landed in the wrong hands.
The decision to do so could affect a trial against the three Swiss engineers – a father and his two sons – who may face charges of nuclear technology proliferation
Swiss technology: According to Swiss media reports, the trio was actively involved in the production and supply of vacuum technology – a key requirement for uranium enrichment – to several countries.
The family’s contact with Khan dates back to the late 1970s when the father’s business first supplied the Pakistani nuclear program with sensitive items. This deal developed into a long-term business relationship.
The sons were also heavily involved in later dealings. One son, Urs Tinner, was allegedly entrusted by Khan to set up a nuclear weapons production facility in Dubai in order to supply Libya. Tinner is believed to have been part of Khan’s “inner-circle” and oversaw a production facility in Malaysia producing centrifuges intended for the regime of Libyan President Muammar Ghaddafi.
Tinner was arrested by German authorities in 2004 and extradited to Switzerland where he has been imprisoned pending charges. His father and brother were also questioned. The elder Tinner was released without charge. The brother is still being held and the investigation is ongoing.
Although it is unclear whether the destruction of the evidence will support the defense’s claim that the Tinners were ordinary businessmen caught up in an extraordinary affair, the Federal Council’s decision to destroy evidence related to an ongoing investigation is highly unusual and has raised questions over the CIA’s possible involvement.
The CIA’s role: … (full text).
(See more about the Nuclear Smuggling Trial Story on Ken Egli, Switzerland (scroll down).