Punishing A.Q. Khan

How the world can make Pakistan's notorious nuclear smuggler pay for his crimes -- since Islamabad isn't going to.

Last week, a Pakistani court lifted the requirement that A.Q. Khan, mastermind of history's most notorious international nuclear-smuggling ring, remain under police escort when traveling about the country. With Khan having been pardoned of any crimes arising from his nuclear dealings by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and having been released after five years under house arrest last February, ending the escort requirement will leave Khan a free man, able once again to enjoy to the fullest the profits he made from his misdeeds. A higher court is reviewing the decision, but at best, it would seem, the police escort might be reinstated.

The rest of the world, however, does not have to go along with Pakistan's unseemly leniency. There are ways to punish Khan from outside Pakistan for his reckless (and highly profitable) activities, which supported nuclear weapon ambitions in Iran, Libya, and North Korea by providing equipment for enriching uranium to weapons grade and, in at least one case, details on how to fabricate a nuclear weapon.

The most potent response would be for the U.N. Security Council to impose a freeze of Khan's assets worldwide, potentially depriving him of his ill-gotten wealth. Three Security Council resolutions that seek to constrain Iran's nuclear program have demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program and have required all U.N. member states -- including Pakistan -- to freeze the assets of persons designated by the Security Council "as being engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities." Because Tehran is currently utilizing technology that Khan provided in the country's U.N.-proscribed uranium-enrichment program, in legal terms Khan's offense can be considered a continuing one, providing the Security Council with ample basis to designate him and immobilize his financial resources.

The Security Council resolutions also bar designated individuals from traveling to any U.N. member state. If Khan were added to the list of designated individuals, this could help ensure he does not attempt to meet with former members of his ring and resuscitate his nuclear smuggling operations.

The Security Council's action, moreover, would be a powerful expression of the international community's condemnation of Khan's behavior, a painful rebuke that in itself would be a form of punishment. In addition, the asset freeze and travel ban might help deter future enablers of Iran's nuclear aspirations.

As a second avenue for penalizing Khan, Germany, Britain, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States have each prosecuted individuals who violated national export-control laws while working for the Khan nuclear-supply network. These cases could be reopened or new cases brought to include Khan as a co-conspirator. Extraditing Khan from Pakistan may be politically impractical, but issuance of an Interpol "red notice," based upon prosecuting states' arrest warrants, could serve as the basis for his provisional arrest wherever he might travel outside Pakistan, pending his extradition. (The red notice enables any country to provisionally arrest him, pending his extradition to a state where he is the subject of a prosecution.)

Civil litigation could be another avenue for punishing Khan. Extensive evidence, including statements by Musharraf, establishes that Khan sold Iran uranium-enrichment centrifuge technology. The core technology was the property of Urenco, the British-Dutch-German consortium that developed the technology, as can be readily demonstrated by a comparison of the Urenco design and technical data from the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) inspections of Iran's centrifuges. Because Urenco never authorized Khan to possess this highly classified technology, these facts provide ample basis for Urenco to sue Khan for misappropriation of trade secrets.

Although Khan's unauthorized taking of the technology occurred in the 1970s, only in recent years has sufficient evidence emerged via Khan's exposure and the IAEA inspections in Iran to establish the trade-secret claim in a court of law. This should excuse the long delay in bringing the suit. If Urenco were successful before a Dutch or British court, executing any judgment in states where Khan's assets were held might prove a challenge, but it is one that is not uncommon in international litigation and often overcome.

Khan's actions are not considered crimes against humanity or war crimes, in part because -- most fortunately -- his activities have not caused mass suffering. But there is a grave risk that they might lead to catastrophe in the future. One legacy of the latest developments in the Khan imbroglio should be intensified attention to making nuclear technology smuggling in violation of national laws an international crime.

In the meantime, guilty of unjust enrichment in all senses of the phrase, Khan can and should be made to pay for his actions.


Iraq's New Surge: Gay Killings

As U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill testifies before Congress today, Iraqi's security is far from assured. Militias now targetting the socially marginalized could soon take their killing spree mainstream.

When my colleague and I sat down last April with Hamid, an Iraqi man from Baghdad, his trauma-induced stutter said as much as the words he spoke. Huddled inconspicuously in a dingy restaurant, Hamid recounted how militia members killed his partner along with three other men, two kidnapped from their Baghdad homes, two slaughtered in the streets. The next day, Hamid said, "they came for me. They came into my house and they saw my mother, and one of them said, 'Where's your faggot son?' My mother called me after they left, in tears. ... I can't go home."

As the world hails Iraq's supposed return to normality, the country's militias -- the same ones that spent years waging a sectarian civil war -- have found a new, less apparent target: men suspected of being gay. The systematic killings, which began earlier this year, reveal the cracks behind Iraq's fragile calm. Iraq's leaders may talk of security and democracy from behind barbed wire in the Green Zone, but the surge of murders against gay men is a stark sign of how far Iraqi society still has to go.

During a 10-day Human Rights Watch research trip to Iraq in April, we heard harrowing stories of torture, abductions, kidnappings, extortion, and murder. We listened to dozens of men who had faced violence at the hands of armed militias, attacked by youths with guns for violating the unwritten codes of Iraqi masculinity. A number of signs might implicate one as being not "manly" enough, from neighborhood gossip that a man is gay to looking somehow effeminate or foreign in the wrong people's eyes: wearing one's hair too long or one's jeans too tight, for example. There is no count available for the number of deaths since the killings began earlier this year, but one U.N. worker told us that the victims could number in the hundreds.

Not a single murder has been adequately investigated, and not a single murderer has been arrested. Infiltrated by militias and fearing for their reputations if they defend "immorality," government officials turn a blind eye.

Most survivors pointed to Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia as the main culprit in the attacks. The stand-down of al-Sadr's men over the past year has been pointed to as a sign of the U.S. troop surge's success. Now, however, many Iraqis speculate that the Mahdi Army is hoping to revitalize its street cred by seizing a murderous new role: as guardians of morality.

Western attention has always focused primarily on sectarian attacks in Iraq. Yet al-Sadr's militia and its counterparts in countless neighborhoods and towns have long had other targets in their cross hairs. These men claim to bear the banners of religion and morality, defending against any transgressors. They paint themselves as the caretakers of tradition, culture, and national authenticity -- which often means keeping women, as well as men, in their rigidly enforced traditional roles. Ironically, they sell their violence as a means of security: Amid the total upheaval of Iraqi society over the last eight years, many people regard any relaxing of gender roles as a threat to public order, undermining patriarchal power. And since the coalition forces failed to provide security after the invasion, such cultural conservatives have moved in to fill the role. Many aimless, unemployed advocates of rigid traditionalism have taken up the task with their guns.

Indeed, since 2003, the Mahdi Army and other militias have targeted women, murdering hundreds if not thousands for working outside the home, for wearing makeup or pants, or just for walking on the streets unveiled. More recently, as attacks on gay men have grown more pronounced, Iraq's media and its mosques have taken up the theme that Iraqi masculinity is under threat. Friday prayers warn that the "third sex" is on the loose in Baghdad cafes.  News articles bemoan the "feminization" of Iraqi men, apparent not only by homosexuality but in Western dress and habits, scandalously tight T-shirts and expensive jeans. The hatred of "feminized" men betrays a deep-seated fear of women, and anxiety over the loss of fatherly and familial control.

Assaults on marginalized people, however, never stay at the margins. The fate of the most isolated, vulnerable people is a barometer of whether the law can protect, and the state will serve, all citizens.

We've seen this pattern all too closely before. In the 1990s, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe proclaimed that lesbians and gays were "people without rights," foreshadowing a broader campaign of brutality -- against farm owners and farmworkers, dissidents and demonstrators, newspapers and trade unions. No one was left untouched. In Iraq today, the government's indifference to a similar campaign of murder -- within a stone's throw of the Green Zone -- is a grim augury for the future. Militias, emboldened by their successes, will need and find new victims. The rights and lives of all Iraqis are potentially at stake.

Today, American and Iraqi politicians' televised boasts about the surge and security sound like a cruel delusion in the homes of countless grieving families. There will be no security in Iraq until the government reins in militias and establishes the rule of law. There will be no justice until assaults against invisible victims -- including the epidemic of gender-based violence -- are investigated and punished. Otherwise, these men, whose only crime is looking different, will only be the first victims in Iraq's second surge -- of killings.