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A Selection of Internal Bikar Metal Asia Invoices, Delivery Notices, and Facsimiles

The International Nature of the Khan Network to Supplement Peddling Peril

April 2, 2010

Chapter 6 of Peddling Peril discusses the Khan network’s supply of a gas centrifuge plant to Libya, detailing how the network organized the supply of hundreds of tonnes of raw aluminum for making centrifuge components in Malaysia and Switzerland.  The aluminum was in the form of “preforms,” which are partially machined aluminum tubes or rods that are then inserted into computer numerically controlled machine tools for cutting into final shape.  The individuals in charge of procurement included Urs Tinner of Switzerland and Shamsul Bahrin Rukiban of Malaysia; both were affiliated with Scomi Precision Engineering (SCOPE), and contracted with Bikar Metal Asia, based in Singapore, for the aluminum.  Bikar Metal Asia, which is a daughter company of the German metal supplier Bikar Metalle GmbH, obtained the aluminum from several suppliers and brokers in Europe and Russia.

The following documents are a small sample from a set that numbers in the hundreds which ISIS obtained in 2004 and subsequently analyzed.  These documents illustrate the international supply chain used by the Khan network, the ease with which it obtained these goods (some of which are on international nuclear-related dual use lists), the relatively open international communication used by the suppliers and purchasers, and the care exercised by Urs Tinner to ensure that the quality of the aluminum preforms was adequate to make centrifuge components. 

This last point is relevant in evaluating when Urs Tinner started working for the CIA, which some reports date to as early as 2000 or 2001.  In contrast, Swiss prosecutors date his formal relationship with the CIA to 2003; prior to that date he may have been a reluctant CIA source but was not engaged directly with an intelligence agency.  Urs has stated that he falsified some centrifuge components, but his emphasis on quality control in March 2002 would suggest that he was at that time concerned about ensuring adequate quality of the centrifuge parts. He and his family were also at that time making considerable money manufacturing the components for Libya.

 

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Document 1.  Bikar Metal Asia June 2002 invoice to Urs Tinner at Scomi Precision Engineering (SCOPE) in Malaysia for a range of aluminum preforms for P2 centrifuge components and high-strength aluminum (Al 7075) tube preforms for the rotor tube of P1 centrifuges.  The latter are listed on nuclear-related dual-use export control lists and usually subject to licensing requirements.  The P1 rotor tubes were manufactured at a Malaysian company located near SCOPE.

 

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Document 2.  Bikar Metal Asia February 2002 invoice listing Thorsten Heise as Bikar Metal Asia and Shamsul Bahrin Rukiban at SCOPE on an invoice for the delivery of a portion of the aluminum preforms.

 

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Document 3.  This November 2001 delivery note shows SCOPE’S predecessor Prisma Wibawa purchasing aluminum preforms for the P2 centrifuge motor housing and having them sent to Kirag in Switzerland for manufacture into final shape.  The contact is Urs Tinner.  Below is a photo of a finished motor housing with a motor inserted.

 

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Figure 1. President Bush at Oak Ridge, Tennessee holding a finished motor housing turned over by Libya.  The aluminum motor housing was made in Switzerland, shipped to Turkey, where another part of the Khan network inserted a motor (white object visible on the bottom of the housing). Source: White House web site.

 

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Document 4.  A facsimile dated in October 2001 from Thorsten Heise at Bikar Metal Asia to the parent company Bikar Metal in Germany asking for an urgent delivery of aluminum preforms.

 

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Document 5.  Delivery note from Bikar Metal Asia to SCOPE showing an aluminum tube preform with 212mm outer diameter (OD), 168mm inner diameter (ID), and length 2,300 mm.  SCOPE manufactured each preform into two P2 centrifuge outer casings.  Below is a photo of a finished outer casing.

 

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Figure 2. Photo of P2 outer casing.  Source: Malaysian Police Report, “Press Release by Inspector General of Police in Relation to Investigation of the Alleged Production of Components for Libya’s Uranium Enrichment Program,” February 20, 2004.

Document 6 and 7.  Below is a two-page facsimile from Heise at Bikar Metal Asia to one of his aluminum brokers, ASMP in Switzerland, requesting a discount for the poor quality of about 20 percent of aluminum tube deliveries, where the aluminum originally came from a Russian company.  This letter shows that SCOPE checked the quality of the aluminum preforms.  This copy is missing the far right side of the original, which obscures the date, but associated documents give the date as early March 2002.  The third document, an earlier facsimile, from SCOPE to Heise, is the cover sheet for 15 tube drawings that showed the poor quality of many of these tubes.  This facsimile was sent to Heise at the request of Urs Tinner.

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by Free Press