JOHOR BAHRU, Malaysia – A confessed black marketeer connected to deals to help Libyan and Iranian nuclear weapons programs has committed no crime in Malaysia and is free to leave, the country's police chief said Saturday.
Malaysian police were "more than willing" to assist international investigations into Bukhary Syed Abu Tahir (search), but had no plans to detain him, Inspector General of Police Mohamed Bakri Omar told The Associated Press.
Mohamed Bakri's comments came a day after he released a report summing up a three-month investigation into Tahir's role in the sale of centrifuge parts from Malaysia to Libya. The report also revealed unprecedented details of the global trade in nuclear secrets to rogue states.
The report cleared a Malaysian company, Scomi Precision Engineering (search), of being knowingly involved in proliferation, but urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (search) to investigate several Europeans Tahir named as middlemen in the trafficking network created by the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan (search).
Khan confessed this month to leaking the technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Asked by AP Saturday if U.S. or international authorities could question Tahir, Mohamed Bakri said: "If the International Atomic Energy Agency would like to conduct an investigation, we are more than willing to assist."
But Tahir is not in custody, Mohamed Bakri said, because the investigation had not found any breach of Malaysian laws or the country's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"We are not imposing anything on him," Mohamed Bakri said. "The (IAEA) can interview him if they so desire. There is no law to bar anybody from leaving this country."
Tahir told Malaysian investigators that Khan sold uranium enrichment equipment to Iran in the mid-1990s and helped Libya advance its nuclear program, the police report said.
The report includes general dates and locations of several meetings he attended with Khan and Libyan and Iranian officials, and other details of deals and operatives.
Tahir, a 44-year-old Sri Lankan who lives in Dubai and Malaysia, says he was one of several middlemen in Khan's network, which dates back to the 1980s and is believed to involve British and Swiss operatives.
Malaysia's investigation into Tahir began after parts made by Scomi Precision Engineering, which is controlled by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's son, were seized en route to Libya.
The report confirmed the Scomi-made parts could be used in centrifuges — sophisticated machines used for enriching uranium — but that the company did not know what their purpose was or where they were headed.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak (search) said the investigation absolved Malaysia of any knowing role in the network.
"What we have said has been totally vindicated," he told reporters Saturday. "And we hope that we can put the issue at rest."
Police said the investigation report will be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency.