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. AROD


    DEMS O8


    I have respec for MCCain but no he can't

    June 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. No McBush

    Iran today is more powerful than before the US invaded Iraq! this is of our own doing, every action, has a reaction. We need to go pact to the days of FDR & JKF, and Churchill... Not BUSHISM, for the worlds sake.

    June 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Michael

    I have to agree with Farrell in Houston, Texas, it is readily apparent that some of you haven’t a clue as to what you are talking about. This has nothing to do with Obama or McCain this has to do with nuclear weapons, how many remember the cold war? Iran has made statements saying he will wipe out Israel and for the world to prepare for a day when the US doesn't exist anymore. To some people on this blog, this may be just a game to play but nuclear weapons are not a game, big or small. Some of you can cry about fear mongering all you want but understand one thing. If Iran uses a nuclear weapon against Israel it is all over folks, the US will respond in kind which will lead Russia to respond to an attack on Iran, its ally. This is not a game, I suggest some of you pull your heads out of the clouds and look at the big picture here.

    Understand, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons and uses them on us or Israel the game is over, humanity could very well render itself extinct. Is this clear enough for some of the idiots out there who want to make this some political game?

    June 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Obama spin

    Obama is the Messiah... trust in him... sheep follow your shepherd

    June 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Independent for Obama

    Wait, WMDs?! Oh no!! There's a possibility of plans for WMDs in Iran and N. Korea?

    Haven't we heard this plotline before?

    June 16, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Illinois

    Yea, at a time when we are most vulnerable to attacks from other countries, Obama wants to get rid of all our nukes and downsize the military. Who's side is he really on???

    June 16, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. voter

    praying for a miracle: what will put our country at risk is having a trigger happy president who sing bomb, bomb, iran. Your are right than americans need to wak up because experience does not equate competency and judgement. With all of the experience we have in congress, most of them voted to authorize the war in iraq. Only a few voted no because they questioned the unreliabie facts. exprience is not that important if someone lacks judgement and cannot maintan an objective view point as well as believes his opnion is correct while others are wrong.

    June 16, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Brandon Hillary Democrat for Mc Cain

    This is the very reason I will NEVER vote for Barack Hussein Obama.
    We need someone who is competent and ready to lead this great nation in such uncertain times. I would not feel comfortable with Bambi in that office.

    Flat Out.

    June 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. I AM NOW AN INDEPENDENT!*********




    June 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Brandon Hillary Democrat for Mc Cain

    Obama is going to talk to the worlds dictators and make everything all better with his diplomatic expertise. LOL
    His experience in dealing with the leaders is..... Well sorry I cant answer that one.
    His foreign policy resume is...... No answer to that one eithier.

    June 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Ted

    Obama will create the perfect opportunity for the next war – a weak United States.

    June 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. CC Atlanta

    What's been lost in all this partisanship, is the silent role Pakistan and its agents have played in proliferating nuclear technology far and wide. As long as the US turns (and has historically turned) a blind eye to Pakistan being a training ground and haven for terrorists, you cannot cut off the problem at the source.

    Obama's "shocking" comments about taking Pakistan to task , if it did not play nicely was railed at by many – but he accurately captures what every country in the South Asian region already knows and has been screaming hoarse over the past decade.

    Just because Pakistan is an ally, means it is above reproach? Or does it now have cover to do what it wants knowing it will never be taken to task?

    June 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Phil in KC

    This is the problem with 3rd World nations having nuclear capability. They can't control it and their governments are too volatile.

    June 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. Ted

    We need to negotiate, not bomb. If someone with with the capacity to make nukes is attacked, they will try to strike back. As a New Yorker, I think that 'Cowboy Diplomacy' is terrible.

    June 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |

    If all of this is true then we need a Man in the oval office that hasn't lost his Bearings. I'm tired of this your a war vet so I should kiss your feet and never talk bad about you. John McCain is out of touch and should not be anywhere near the red button. We need a person with Judgement. I don't care what anyone thinks you can't prepare to be President even Bill Clinton said that. You need to have good judgement, integrity, truthfullness, and the courage to make the undesirable decision. OBAMA scores on all of these McCain on 2 tops. Case in point a gas tax holiday which we all know is a pander. Do you want someone in the white house that doesn't have the you know what to tell you the truth? I don't and we know what it is like to have one of those in the white house. we have one now.

    June 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. William, from Cali!

    Look, if you believe some "DemocRATS"; We can talk, with them; they don't want to hurt us.........Therefore, what do we have to fear from them! Liars.................................................................................

    June 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Boo

    I'm so scared right now so I should vote for McBush, right?

    Fear worked in the last two elections, why not this one?

    "..and the country is stronger for it.."

    June 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Paul

    Not a problem. BHO will call a meeting of all the terrorist nations and "convince" them of the evil of their ways. His smooth line works with all the Obamatrons. Why won't it work with those naughty terrorists who want us destroyed? Rest easy America, smooth talker is on the way.

    June 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Joe, Northern Virginia

    I have always wondered on the integrity and the journalist ethics of this John Roberts guy... He should just report the news and avoid making them. He is a Canadian anyway; so why is he injecting himself into our politics? He even just became a US citizen... He has no viable clue of most of the news he makes. If there were more journalist like Tim Russert, John King, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper etc.. The will be fewer like him- John Robert.

    June 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. JC

    We must keep these nutjobs from getting nuclear weapons. If economics and politics don't work we have the military capability to do it if we have the will to use it! We must not give them gifts hoping they will stop or ignore the issue!

    June 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Hillary Clinton

    Avoid the trauma, stop Obama!

    June 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Bob Chisolm

    Of course they are persuing such technology.
    The only troubling thing is that to this very day most people deny that Iran's neighbor to the south was not interested in doing the same. Go figure...

    June 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. martin

    maybe without all the 'secrets' kept from the public,we can form a united decision on how to deal with nuclear proliferators.

    June 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Sue from Chicago

    A.Q. Khan should be questioned throughly by CIA. Pakistan is more of a terrorist producing nation than a partner in fighting terrorism.

    June 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Nia - AZ

    My nightmare sceneario would be to hear news that Obama has made Hillary his VP selection**Que dramatic music and screams**

    June 16, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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