Sitting at home tonight watching the news and they were talking about Iran’s nuclear program. The narrator said something amount Iran procuring a P2 (I think. It doesn’t really matter) centrifuge, which could be used in refining uranium, on the black market.
Just how does one buy a nuclear weapons making machine on the black market? I mean, I understand guns, drugs, Rolexes…but nuclear equipment? I take it this isn’t something you talk to Pablo on the corner about, so how does one find this stuff? Disgruntled rocket scientists? Bankrupt governments?
The simplest method is to talk to a certain government official in Pakistan-though I understand that other committments have suddenly made him “unavailable” to take calls right now :). According to various news stories I have heard, much of the equipment is dual-use and so is available openly. Of course since it has more than one use, the sale of such equipment is heavily regulated. Several pieces of equipment, such as the high-speed centrifuge (the P2 is a more efficient design) has to be made, not purchased. Though Iran apparently managed to pick up some centrifuges on the used-bomb market (at least they said they did. Highly enriched uranium was found on the equipment and when confronted Iran said it must have been left there by the previous owner). So, there is a black-market on this kind of equipment. Originally headed by Dr. Khan in Pakistan, I imagine that it is probably now controled by even less reputable types.
Ever hear of AQ Khan?
Plus, even if they had managed to get some P2 centrifuges, you still need at least several hundred of them to have any sort of decent enrichment program. And getting the centrifuges is not the only hurdle. Arranging them to work successfully in a cascade is very complicated and technologically demanding.