Germany Convicts Khan Associate

By Peter Crail

On Oct. 16, German authorities sentenced German engineer Gotthard Lerch to five and one-half years in prison for his role in aiding Libya’s nuclear program. Lerch, who was also fined $4.7 million by a Stuttgart court, shared sophisticated vacuum technology as part of a nuclear smuggling network led by Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan. This network provided Iran, Libya, North Korea, and potentially other countries with technology geared toward the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Lerch’s sentence was the result of a plea bargain in which he reversed his initial claim of innocence and admitted to illegally exporting vacuum technology used in a uranium-enrichment program between 1999 and 2003. The Stuttgart state court that tried Lerch said Oct. 16 that he “admitted having supported the production of…piping systems for a gas ultra-centrifuge facility in South Africa,” which was being prepared by South African engineers for Libya.

Click here to return to full article.

No comments: