June 16th, 2008
11:30 AM ET
15 years ago

Roberts: The Nightmare Scenario


Watch John Roberts' interview with David Albright.

(CNN) - For rogue nations pursuing nuclear weapons, the huge hurdle - and therefore the saving grace of the rest of the world - has been the challenge to build a device that can be mounted atop a missile. Plans that had been peddled by the infamous A.Q. Khan network - while potentially devastating in their destructive power - by and large had been thought to be rather primitive in their construction and unwieldy in their delivery capability.

Now, however, comes word from former UN weapons inspector David Albright that the Khan network had plans for an advanced weapons system that might fit onto the sort of missiles possessed by North Korea and Iran.

Albright told me this morning that the blueprints were "Quite advanced. Basically designs from Pakistan's nuclear arsenal". And, says Albright, the type of designs Pakistan insisted Khan did not take from that nation's nuclear arsenal.

Plans for the weapons systems were allegedly found in the possession of Friedrich, Marco and Urs Tinner, a Swiss father and his two sons believed to be associated with the A.Q. Khan network. Did any of this technology actually make its way to rogue states? Impossible to know, according to Albright. The Tinners, he says "are not co-operating with the prosecutors. Khan is not co-operating. One of the key questions is did Iran buy these designs? Does it in that sense know more about making nuclear weapons than the public realizes?"

The U.S. government and its closest allies have known about these blueprints for a couple of years. Which is, perhaps, why the Administration has been so aggressive in putting the screws to Iran to come clean about its nuclear program, and why Israeli officials have been making overt threats to Iran. The public, through Albright's investigation, is only learning about it now.

And Albright is pursuing the issue with urgency. The Tinners, he fears, could soon be released from a Swiss jail. A.Q. Khan, who has been under house arrest - and who claimed in a CNN interview that he was merely a "fall guy" - may soon be released from house arrest in Islamabad. Khan, he says, needs to be interviewed by the United States. Pakistan has so far refused. The Tinners, he says, need to be prosecuted.

If Iran is pursuing a military nuclear program, as the U.S. and its allies claim, the blueprints for this advanced weapons system could give Iran "a great shortcut to making smaller nuclear weapons" according to Albright. "I think we should be troubled", he says, "troubled on many levels."

Filed under: John Roberts
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. the true nightmare scneario

    Is if we continue to keep playing in their house without their permission.

    Iraq, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and every other country (140 in all) where we have military bases is not part of the United States.

    Bring the troops home and lets focus on the future domestic depression about to hit and rebuild from within.

    Many countries will magically stop hating us when we leave their sphere of influence.

    We are a democracy and not an empire....

    June 16, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Matt

    Shhhh.....democrats don't think terrorists exist, they think Bush invents them so we can invade countries so we can have cheap gas.

    June 16, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    People saying Obama has no judgement.

    What a joke, this from people that thought Iraq was going to be an easy deal.

    Just go away, OK.

    McCain? Oh please, he belongs in a nut house.

    June 16, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. Michael

    I would suggest to ignore Iran, but that might be too costly.

    Perhaps peaceful talks are in order?

    June 16, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Nom Deplume, Esq.

    We can't deter, and we won't deter. And the issue is not whether Pakistan or Iran have nukes–they won't use them on the US (Israel, maybe) but even then, they can be deterred. It is when they allow terrorists to act as their proxies. Even appeasement will not help; only if we throw Israel under the bus will we be able to truly appease radical islamists.

    Until that happens, I will not work or live in any major US city (esp. NYC), nor let my family do so. The threat is very real, and the police state required to deter it effectively would be unpalatable to americans, particularly those on the left.

    Call me a knuckle-dragging Republican, neocon, whatever, if you like, but I will be happy to debate this with anyone, anywhere. I have studied these issues as an undergraduate, and have two more related graduate degrees since then.

    Besides, I am not worried. I am outside the blast radius and fallout plumes, and have investment hedges in place.

    June 16, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. MD

    No problem. Obama said that Iran, N. Korea, Venezuela, etc. are not significant threats. So we can all go back to watching Oprah.

    June 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Rave

    OBAMA is the only hope... He will stop the unnecessary wars and go after people and countries who really sponsor terrorism. He will eliminate any strong roots of terrorists and try to solve problems at the root level. Not create new roots like this government is doing for past 6 years or so.
    Start thinking with your brains.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    June 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Ask youselves this, people?

    Are you "safer off" today than you were 8 years ago?

    Interesting where the technology is coming from, and what the presumptive candidates are saying where the real problems are. What they each claim should be America's, and the world's focus?

    Allbright is the same guy who just made it out of Iraq, without only a couple of hours to spare, before the Bush started "Shock and Awe". Don't forget.

    The war was started because inspectors kept coming up empty for years. Saddam was tired of the endless inspections. He claimed that he had nothing, and was expressing unwillingness to allow future inspections. Then, the US revealed or rather claimed evidence of violations. But, inspectors were on the ground when the first bombers actually took off for Baghdad.

    June 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Elaine

    What is this? Fearmongering?

    June 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    I always thought the real hurdle to making Nukes was the construction of the sophisticated trigger mechanism, and building a rocket that did not vibrate it apart or out of alignment before reaching its destination.

    June 16, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. voter

    this is what happens when we put our resources to a country that had nothing to do with 911 (iraq) instead of going after the real terrorists. it should not be a surpirse that countries likes North Korea and Iran are developing nuclear weapons. since we have been ignoring countries that harbor real terrrorits or may become potential threats, this administration decided to invade Iraq. this administration kept his eye off the ball and it led to dire consequences. It amazes me that despite the fact that the gop has continually lied to us about the reason for going to war and is responsible for sending our troops to a death trap, people are considering to vote for this party. it is unreal. they should all be in jail for war crimes.

    June 16, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. After further review,Texas.

    Obama is young and strong and his mind is sharp.He will have his best commanders at the ready to repel all enemies,at home or abroad.Yes commanders we can believe,not talking-head yes men.Obama is the man to keep us safe and respected around the globe.

    June 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Tejano

    The true Nighmare Scenario is having Obama as our next president.

    June 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA











    June 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Honestly

    Pakistan has had nukes for a LONG time – which is why we should have been aggressively neutralizing the extremists in Afghanistan and the hills of Pakistan!

    No! Instead we're messing around in Iraq...

    The extremists with nukes are in Pakistan – Pakistan is an unstable nation and has experienced a military coup at the hands of Musharraf... But let's keep shaking hands with him while he allows terrorists to take over and intimidate...

    America needs to wake up!!!

    June 16, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. D.C.

    Personally? I say let them all have bombs and nuke themselves into the next millennium. Who made the US the world's police? If Iran and Pakistan and all the 'stans get weapons, then it will be up to those living next to Israel to make sure the weapon's don't get deployed, don't you think?

    Let Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the others spend their billions policing that part of the world. It's in their interest to do so.

    June 16, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |

    TO TEJANO...


    OBAMA '08

    June 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. Democrats Unite!!!

    Bomb them all out of existence!
    That should surely solve the problem.
    – President McBush.

    June 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. D.C.

    Do the republicans have you guys sit around and put something in every post, regardless of what it is about?

    NO BUSH THIRD TERM, thanks. It's the Bush and GOP "tax and war" approach to government that has added to this mess in the first place. Isn't it funny how they talk about "smaller government" because you morons are stupid enough to believe it and then they grow the government, grow war, and grow the deficit?

    Stupid GOP sheep.

    June 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Ted

    I am sure the liberals think this is just a scare tactic...... This is why we cant have a liberal President. Did we not learn anything from the Clinton years. The liberal philosphy of apeasement and turn the other cheek will no longer work.

    Anyone But Obama and his baby's momma

    June 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. umair khan

    LIES from a news channel. just wonder who is foolish enough to read and believe this BS spread around by zionist Israeli lobby + there boot licking American counter-parts....its a pity that a great nation such as the USA gives in to these destroyers of peace in the world....

    Telll me whats wrong with IRan having nuclear weapons to ensure its security with the US & Israel just looking for anything to start a conflict which btw both would be rather served better not to go ahead with?

    and if u tell me something that involves "wiping of the map" than you i'm afraid and those propogandist have something in common....

    June 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Obama will speak on it

    Don't worry.... Obama will just talk them out of it.

    His arrogance is superceded only by how self-important and self-impressed he is.


    It shows you how early in life Obama learned how to manipulate public opinion and people's behavior

    June 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Tim

    To Rave,
    Will he be as good as Clinton was......HAHAHAHA

    June 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Were NOT your friends!

    The true Nightmare Scenario would be having McWar's finger on the button!

    June 16, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The ignorant will always be among us. Read the whole article before indulging in comments that have nothing to do with your personal attacks.

    June 16, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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