Press Release by Inspector General of Police in Relation to Investigation on the Alleged Production of Components for Libya’s Uranium Enrichment Programme

February 20, 2004


On the evening of 10 Nov 2003, two intelligence representatives from the United States and Britain, i.e. the CIA and the MI6, met the Director of the Special Branch, Bukit Aman. The focus of their discussion was the ongoing investigation related to the international network that is suspected of being involved in the transfer of nuclear technology to third countries. Both the representatives asked for the co-operation of the Special Branch to prevent the spread of nuclear technology. They also provided information relevant for joint action.


2. Among the informations passed are the following:

2.1 Involvement of a nuclear scientist in PAKISTAN

Alleged that a Pakistani nuclear arms expert was involved in the "onward proliferation of Pakistani nuclear technology to third countries, notably LIBYA."


Alleged that BSA TAHIR, a SRI LANKAN businessman based in DUBAI was a trusted and close confidante of the arms expert and was actively involved in supplying centrifuge components for LIBYA's uranium-enrichment programme; and


Alleged that BSA TAHIR, who was involved in the business of SCOPE had used the company to produce components for the centrifuge unit for the uranium enrichment programme. However, investigations have revealed that the components, on their own, cannot form a complete centrifuge unit. In this context, it has to be noted that SCOPE is a subsidiary of SCOMI GROUP BHD, i.e. a company involved in the petroleum services industry. As a subsidiary, SCOPE is also involved in precision engineering services which involves the production of components for a variety of equipments including parts for cars, petroleum and gas.

3. In relation to this, the Special Branch was also informed that on 4 Oct 2003, a ship named BBC China, owned by a GERMAN company, was examined in the port of Taranto, ITALY, where 5 containers bound for LIBYA were confiscated because they were believed to contain components related to the Libyan uranium enrichment programme. The components were said to have been packed in wooden boxes with the SCOPE logo on them. With this development a request was made to assist with the investigations related to the activities of BSA TAHIR and his connection with the Pakistani scientist in view of the "intense interest in this matter at the highest levels of the US/UK governments".

4. Following this development, the police launched an investigation to find out the real situation and it's implication to the interest and security of MALAYSIA.


5. Pursuant to this investigation, the Prime Minister was briefed on 13 Nov 2003. He ordered a detailed and transparent investigation to be expedited. At the same time, the Inspector-General of Police was informed. He gave an order to continue with the investigation had been given.


6. In conducting this investigation, the Special Branch, took into consideration the above-mentioned allegations and focused on the following aspects:-


The allegation that BSA TAHIR had played the role of a middle man in supplying certain centrifuge components from MALAYSIA for LIBYA's uranium-enrichment programme;


The allegation against SCOPE; and


Other related information.

7. As a responsible member state of the United Nations (UN), it is MALAYSIA's responsibility to investigate and inform on any activity which involves nuclear proliferation. In relation to this, MALAYSIA is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency under the UN, which is responsible for the enforcement of rules and regulations controlling nuclear weapons under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This is to ensure that the investigations are thorough and free of doubt. In relation to this, two preliminary reports were given to the Department of Safeguards, IAEA in VIENNA through the cooperation and help of the Director-General of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) MALAYSIA and an officer with Malaysia's Institute of Nuclear Technology Research (MINT). One complete report will also be handed to IAEA to assist the agency to carry out investigations on individuals or companies outside MALAYSIA suspected to be involved in related activities.


8. BSA TAHIR, whose full name is BUHARY SEYED ABU TAHIR, is 44 years old and a citizen of SRI LANKA and a businessman based in DUBAI. BSA TAHIR and his brother own a company i.e. SMB GROUP, DUBAI where he is the Group Managing Director. In 1998, BSA TAHIR married a MALAYSIAN woman and gained permanent residency in MALAYSIA. SMB GROUP started as a family company in 1980 and is now involved in the computer and IT fields. Generally, BSA TAHIR spends time overseeing his businesses in DUBAI and only returns to MALAYSIA, once in a while, to visit his wife's family or look for business opportunities.

9. Upon his father's death in 1985, BSA TAHIR took over the management of SMB and in the process visited PAKISTAN and succeeded in getting contracts to sell air conditioning equipment to Khan Research Laboratory (KRL). During this time, BSA TAHIR became acquainted with the Pakistani nuclear expert. At the same time, BSA TAHIR got to know middlemen from other countries, including EUROPE, who were involved in supplying uranium centrifuge components on behalf of the Pakistani nuclear expert.


10. Investigation showed that the supply of components by middlemen was carried out in a discreet manner and involved suppliers from other countries to blur the sources of the components. Some of the suppliers were believed to be aware that these components could be for uranium enrichment centrifuges. Generally these suppliers mostly from Europe, were those who had had dealings with the nuclear expert since the 1980s, at a time when PAKISTAN was developing its nuclear technology. There were a number of individuals and companies which supplied the components but were unaware of the implications because some of the components were similar to components used in oil drilling, water treatment and equipment for several other general use.


11. During investigations, BSA TAHIR alleged that his involvement with the nuclear expert started sometime in 1994/1995. That year, the latter had asked BSA TAHIR to send two containers of used centrifuge units from PAKISTAN to IRAN. BSA TAHIR organized the transshipment of the two containers from DUBAI to IRAN using a merchant ship owned by a company in IRAN. BSA TAHIR said the payment for the two containers of centrifuge units, amounting to about USD$3 million was paid in UAE Dirham currency by the Iranian. The cash was brought in two briefcases and kept in an apartment that was used as a guesthouse by the Pakistani nuclear arms expert each time he visited DUBAI.


12. From what BSA TAHIR could recall, LIBYA had contacted the nuclear arms expert in 1997 to obtain help and expertise in the field of uranium-enrichment centrifuge. Several meetings between the arms expert and representatives from LIBYA took place:-


Meeting in ISTANBUL sometime in 1997. During this meeting, the nuclear arms expert was accompanied by BSA TAHIR while LIBYA was represented by MOHAMAD MATUQ MOHAMAD and another person known only as KARIM. During this meeting, the Libyans asked the arms expert to supply centrifuge units for LIBYA's nuclear programme; and


About 1998 to 2002. During this time, several meetings were held between the arms expert, accompanied by BSA TAHIR and the Libyans headed by MOHAMAD MATUQ MOHAMAD. One discussion was held in Casablanca, MOROCCO and several discussions in DUBAI.

13. As a result of these meetings, the following progress were made:-


Around 2001, the nuclear arms expert informed BSA TAHIR that a certain amount of UF6 (enriched uranium) was sent by air from PAKISTAN to LIBYA. BSA TAHIR could not remember the name of the Pakistan Airlines which transported the uranium;


Year 2001/2002. The nuclear arms expert informed BSA TAHIR that a certain number of centrifuge units were sent to LIBYA directly from PAKISTAN by air. There is a possibility that the design of the centrifuge units that were sent were of the P1 model, i.e. a DUTCH designed model;


Project Machine Shop 1001. This was a project to set up a workshop in LIBYA to make centrifuge components which could not be obtained from outside LIBYA. The machines for the workshop were obtained from SPAIN and ITALY. BSA TAHIR said the middleman involved in this project was PETER GRIFFIN, a BRITISH citizen who is believed to have once owned Gulf Technical Industries (GTI) based in DUBAI. PETER GRIFFIN is said to be retired and living in FRANCE. The management of GTI has been taken over by his son PAUL GRIFFIN. BSA TAHIR also said that the plans for the Machine Shop 1001 was prepared by PETER GRIFFIN.


14. BSA TAHIR said that PAKISTAN's need to produce nuclear weapons became urgent after INDIA tested its nuclear weapon on 18 May 1974. In view of this, the Kahuta Plant was set up and the nuclear arms expert was forced to get equipment discreetly from developed nations, especially Europe. In the process, he developed contacts to get the needed material from several countries. This had to be done discreetly because PAKISTAN had to develop a nuclear weapon for national defence after INDIA's nuclear test received opposition from many Western countries. Amid these difficulties, the nuclear expert successfully developed a network of middlemen that, not only involved BSA TAHIR, but also several people and companies from Europe seeking to make profits by selling certain materials and equipment. However, it was a loose network, without a rigid hierarchy, or a head and a deputy head as was alleged.

15. According to BSA TAHIR, some of the middlemen appeared to have known the nuclear expert for a long while and some amongst them knew him when he was in the NETHERLANDS. Among the middlemen alleged to have links with him are:-


Late HEINZ MEBUS, an engineer. He is alleged to have been involved in discussions between the nuclear arms expert and IRAN to supply centrifuge designs about 1984/85.


GOTTHARD LERCH, a German citizen residing in Switzerland. GOTTHARD LERCH once worked for LEYBOLD HERAEUS, a German company that is alleged to have produced vacuum technology equipment. GOTTHARD LERCH is alleged to have tried to obtain supplies of pipes for the Machine Shop 1001 Project by sourcing from SOUTH AFRICA but failed to obtain it even though payment had been made by LIBYA earlier.


GUNAS JIREH, a citizen of TURKEY who had once worked for the German company Siemens. GUNAS JIREH is alleged to have supplied aluminium casting and dynamo to LIBYA at the request of the nuclear arms expert;


SELIM ALGUADIS, a citizen of TURKEY. Also said to be an engineer. Alleged to have supplied electrical cabinets and power supplier-voltage regulator to LIBYA. Two weeks after action against the ship BBC China in Taranto, Italy on 4 Oct 2003, BSA TAHIR is alleged to have arranged the transshipment of electrical cabinets and power supplier-voltage regulator to LIBYA through DUBAI on behalf of SELIM ALGUADIS.


PETER GRIFFIN, a citizen of UNITED KINGDOM who has business interests in DUBAI and currently residing in FRANCE. Alleged to have supplied the lay-out plan for the Machine Shop 1001 as a workshop to enable LIBYA to produce centrifuge;


About 2001/2002, PETER GRIFFIN is alleged to have supplied a lathe machine to LIBYA for the Machine Shop 1001 Project. After that PETER GRIFFIN arranged to send 7 to 8 LIBYAN technicians to SPAIN, twice, to attend courses on how to operate the machine. At the same time, PETER GRIFFIN is also said to have supplied an ITALIAN - made furnace to LIBYA for the workshop. Usually, lathe machines are used to make cylindrical objects, while the furnace is essential in the process of heating and refining during the manufacture of certain components;


FRIEDRICH TINNER, mechanical engineer, alleged to have had dealings with the nuclear arms expert since 1980s. FRIEDRICH TINNER was reported to have prepared certain centrifuge components, including safety valves, and he sourced many of the materials that were made in several companies in Europe. FRIEDRICH TINNER did not keep the stock himself but arranged for the supply to reach DUBAI and then on to LIBYA. FRIEDRICH TINNER is also the President of CETEC, a company in SWITZERLAND; and


URS FRIEDRICH TINNER is the son of FRIEDRICH TINNER. URS TINNER is a consultant arranged by BSA TAHIR to set up the SCOPE factory in SHAH ALAM. He was actively involved in the manufacturing operations in the SCOPE factory. (See Passport | Work Permit)

16. Although the individuals above were alleged to have been involved, the governments of the countries concerned and some of the companies involved which supplied the components to the individuals above were unaware of the real use of the components.


17. The Special Branch also investigated the allegation that BSA TAHIR had used SCOPE and its business to manufacture certain parts of the centrifuge unit. A check on Malaysia's Security Commission records show that SCOPE or Scomi Precision Engineering Sdn. Bhd. was set up as a subsidiary to Scomi Group on 4 Dec 2001. Before SCOPE was set up as a subsidiary of Scomi, it was known as Prisma Wibawa Sdn. Bhd. (PWSB). At first, PWSB had no production facility but after SCOPE was set up, a production facility was set up in 2001.

18. SCOPE's business is precision engineering services. Generally, SCOPE gets orders from a number of companies to supply parts or components for vehicle parts and machining high precision components. The work involved machining parts such as cutting, turning and milling. The SCOPE factory is located in SHAH ALAM and has a permanent staff of about 30 people. As such, it is not a very big factory or a complex when compared with other factories.

19. Results of the investigation according to chronology is as follows:-



Sometime in 2001, BSA TAHIR is alleged to have planned to manufacture components with GUNAS JIREH in TURKEY. However, BSA TAHIR later changed his mind and offered a new business plan said to be legitimate to produce components for petroleum and gas to SCOPE. The staff were under the impression that the production was for petroleum and gas intended for DUBAI.



Following this development, BSA TAHIR sent URS FRIEDRICH TINNER as a consultant to the SCOPE factory with the aim of giving expert advice on how to manufacture components in a business that was deemed legitimate.


URS FRIEDRICH TINNER or URS TINNER, as he is better known, is 39 years old and is the son of FFRIEDRICH TINNER. URS TINNER was made a full-time technical consultant to SCOPE starting Apr 2002 on the recommendation of BSA TAHIR. According to BSA TAHIR, URS TINNER was recommended after PETER GRIFFIN was found unsuitable for the job. Before this, PETER GRIFFIN presented a feasibility study recommending, among others, the type of machinery needed. One of the machinery, a Cincinnati Hawk 150 Machining Centre, is the same as that purchased and installed by URS TINNER. This evidence was found in a document in the nature of a brief note allegedly signed by PETER GRIFFIN himself dated 10 Mar 2001.


As a consultant, URS TINNER was responsible in importing and setting up the machine that was bought through the services of his father, FRIEDRICH TINNER. There were also machines imported through Traco Company, SWITZERLAND, owned by MARCO TINNER, the brother of URS TINNER. Among the types of machines that were bought and fixed by URS TINNER are CNC Lathe Hawk (Cincinnati) from the UNITED KINGDOM, CNC Machining Center Arrow 500 (Cincinnati), also from the UNITED KINGDOM, CNC Lathe Mexica 590 (Cazeneuve) in FRANCE and Emco PC Turn 155 from UNITED KINGDOM. Two other machines made in TAIWAN i.e. Automated Bandshaw Cutting Machine (Averizing) and Universal Tool Grinder (Monaset) were bought from local agents.

20. Throughout the time he was in the SCOPE factory, URS TINNER was seen by SCOPE staff as carrying out his duties with care and would always take back his component drawings once a component was finished. URS TINNER is also alleged to have said that he was doing that to safeguard trade secrets. At that time, his explanation was accepted by the staff. No suspicions were aroused.

21. Many SCOPE staff also said that URS TINNER would erase all technical drawings that were kept in the computer at the SCOPE factory. In Oct 2003, URS TINNER ended his term of service at the SCOPE factory and just before this, is said to have taken the hard-disc of the company's computer that was designated for his use. URS TINNER is also said to have taken his personal file from the SCOPE factory's records. This gave the impression that URS TINNER did not wish to leave any trace of his presence there and wanted to ensure that the technical drawings did not fall into the hands of the SCOPE factory staff. However, URS TINNER left behind a machine, i.e. a manual turning machine. It was a 1948 model made in Schaublins, SWITZERLAND. This machine was never used .

22. The SCOPE staff did not know that on 4 Oct 2003, a ship, BBC China, was examined in the port of Taranto, ITALY where a total of 5 containers bound for LIBYA were confiscated because they were alleged to contain components for certain parts of a centrifuge unit. In fact, URS TINNER left his position as a consultant in SCOPE also in Oct 2003.


23. The investigations show that the raw materials for making the components were obtained from a German subsidiary company i.e. Bikar Metal Pte Ltd in SINGAPORE. A total of 300 metric tons of aluminium grade 6061 and 6082 were bought and obtained from Bikar Metal in the form of round bars or round tubes. These materials are not controlled items. Therefore, URS TINNER recommended the purchase and this did not give rise to any concern or suspicion among the SCOPE staff.


24. The materials obtained from Bikar Metal i.e. aluminium round tube and aluminium round bar are semi-finished products that were sent to the SCOPE factory in SHAH ALAM for machining to be made into components for export. The order from BSA TAHIR was a one-off production estimated at about RM13 million and was sent in four stages to DUBAI. This was not a long-term contract on a continuing basis.

25. The SCOPE factory records show that a total of 14 types of components were manufactured. The components were sent in four stages i.e. in the month of Dec 2002 to Aug 2003. All four shipments were sent to DUBAI to Aryash Trading Company.

26. Though a document, delivery note/packing list, dated 1 Aug 2002 (Appendix "A") shows that SCOPE had sent a shipment addressed to Gulf Technical Industries LCC, P.O. Box 29576, Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, the consignment was directed to Desert Electrical Equipment Factory, P.O.Box 51209, DUBAI on the instructions of URS TINNER. Documents related to the delivery to Desert Electrical Equipment Factory is as at "B".

27. From the document retrieved such as 'delivery note and packing list', it has been found that SCOPE only shipped the components to DUBAI. No document was traced that proved SCOPE had delivered or exported the said components to LIBYA. Only BSA TAHIR and URS TINNER are said to know any preparation or arrangements to LIBYA.


28. As explained, on 4 October 2003, a vessel, BBC CHINA, was searched at the Taranto port, ITALY where a total of 5 containers to LIBYA was seized following allegations it contained certain components for 'centrifuge.' The containers were sent by BSA TAHIR from DUBAI. Several items inside the container that is said to be components of a 'centrifuge' are as follows :

Description Part Numbers Total

28.1 Casing 4 2,208

28.2 Molecular Pump 5 2,208

28.3 Top spacer 6 608

28.4 Positioner 8 10,549

28.5 Top end 9 1,680

28.6 Crash Ring 12 2,208

28.7 Stationary Tube 59 1,056

28.8 Clamp holder 73 400

28.9 Flange 77 4,525

29. All the above items, were made of 'quality aluminium' and were in wooden boxes with the SCOPE logo. This was part of the 'transshipment' delivered by SCOPE to Aryash Trading Company, DUBAI. The shipment of the items or components by BSA TAHIR to LIBYA via the vessel BBC CHINA was outside the knowledge of the management of SCOPE.

30. Photographs of the above items or components was shown to local experts at the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), which is responsible for the implementation of guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) connected with 'IAEA safeguard system' in MALAYSIA, and also the Malaysian Institute of Nuclear Technology Research (MINT). They admitted that trained eyes like theirs found it difficult to positively confirm that the seized components were part of a 'centrifuge' unit. This is because the said components could also be used by other industries besides Nuclear Technology. It was important and necessary to know the existence of a secret international network that planned to supply centrifuge components to LIBYA before making any assumptions on its use. In relation to this, it is appropriate to extract the AELB view on the seized components:

"The sets of graphic images presented, it may be parts of many possible mechanical device or devices. These parts could easily be fitted into many industrial or home components. Without knowing the full or a significant portion of the total of sub assembly no definitive use of assignment of the possible device may be made"

(Photographs of components seized from BBC CHINA is as at Appendix "C")


31. The action against vessel BBC CHINA should also be viewed with scepticism in the light of the following allegations made by BSA TAHIR:


BSA TAHIR claimed that' together with the seized components on board BBC CHINA on October 4, 2003, was a consignment sent by GUNAS JIREH, a Turkish national who supplied 'aluminum casting and dynamo' to LIBYA for its 'machine shop 1001' project. These items were delivered through DUBAI using the services of TUT Shipping (TS) via vessel BBC CHINA. It is surprising that the consignment from GUNAS JIREH direct to LIBYA was allowed without any action; and


Two weeks after action taken against BBC CHINA, BSA TAHIR claimed to have arranged a 'transshipment of electrical cabinet and power supplier-voltage regulator' to LIBYA through DUBAI on behalf of SELIM ALGUADIS. These transshipment too arrived in LIBYA without any obstruction and this is unusual. SELIM ALGUADIS is said to have known AQK since the 1980s'.


32 In general, the investigations revealed the following :


That the management of SCOPE were unaware that the exported components were part of certain centrifuge unit for LIBYA. The management of SCOPE considered it a legitimate business deal. To untrained eyes, such components would not raise any concern as the components are similar to components that could be used by the 'petrol -chemical industry' and 'water treatment' and various other industries.


SCOPE obtained the semi-finished product to produce the said components from a German company Bikar Metal and this gives the impression that these items are not controlled items. In view of the foregoing, the work that was carried out on the semi-finished product is legitimate and does not give rise to suspicion.


BSA TAHIR and URS TINNER did not declare the use of the component or the true nature of the business. Moreover, the components that were confiscated cannot be used as one complete unit of centrifuge. Vital components such as rotor motor or in technical terms rotating components were not among the components seized. Besides, SCOPE does not have the ability or the technical know how to produce it. It must be stressed that rotating components are vital for a centrifuge unit for the process of uranium enrichment. To build one centrifuge unit, a number of sophisticated components are needed and SCOPE only prepared 12 types of components. In fact, SCOPE was misled into manufacturing the components for dual purposes for the petroleum and gas industry. As of now no factory in Malaysia is capable of manufacturing a complete centrifuge unit, what more, the construction of hundreds or thousands of centrifuges.


To SCOPE, the alleged manufacturing of components for centrifuges was a one-off production worth an estimated RM13 million. This means SCOPE did not receive any further orders and, as such, the manufacturing of such components is not its core business. As such, claims that the Malaysian authorities have shut down one of the network's largest plant has been exaggerated.

33. In this context it is worthy to note that Malaysia is a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). NPT in general oversees control over nuclear materials like uranium, thorium and plutonium. Manufacturing, using or importing and exporting of uranium and plutonium and also other materials like thorium that can be converted into uranium are controlled by the NPT. All nations, including Malaysia, who are signatories to the NPT are required to report all inventories, and also the import and export of nuclear materials, to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based in Vienna, Austria as the IAEA is the enforcement agency to the NPT. However, it has no control over nuclear equipments such as centrifuge components. As such SCOPE or Malaysia has not broken any of the NPT rules, as it is not among the listed items of the NPT. Besides, Malaysia has yet to sign the Additional Protocol to the IAEA's enforcement control agreement. In general, this Additional Protocol ensures control over specific nuclear equipment like single-use items that covers materials such as centrifuge for uranium enrichment. However, this Additional Protocol does not cover dual-use items like centrifuge for petrochemical, water treatment and the use in molecular biology for protein separation for health. Therefore, Malaysia, which is not a party to the Additional Protocol, has not violated any of the provision in the Additional Protocol because the seized components at the Port of Taranto in Italy were basic components and not complete centrifuge unit for uranium enrichment. Moreover, under Malaysian laws under the Atomic Energy Licensing Act (Act 304) there is no provision under the law for the control of such components that were seized.

34. From the explanation above, it is clear that SCOPE has not violated any law under the NPT, Additional Protocol and also the Malaysian law under the AEL (Act 304). What is clear is that most individuals involved in the networking are from Europe whose countries are signatories to the Additional Protocol and also members of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). As such, these countries are governed by the rules and regulations that have been set including reporting any transaction of specific materials for the use of nuclear to the IAEA. Germany has signed the Additional Protocol on 22 September 1998 and also a member of the NSG. Therefore, it is the responsibility of Bikar Metal to report to the German Government and also to the IAEA if semi-finished products that was supplied to SCOPE had been listed as a controlled item.


35. The police, in handling the investigation took an open and transparent approach. In this context, a full and complete report in connection with the investigation will be submitted to the AELB Malaysia to be reported to IAEA, an agency under the United Nations. This is in line with Malaysia's policy in recognizing a multi-lateral approach under the aegis of the IAEA and rejecting a unilateral approach where investigations are monopolized by only certain countries. The Malaysian authorities are always ready to cooperate with the IAEA if there is a need for further investigation.

36. It is hoped that the IAEA will start investigations on several individuals from Europe allegedly involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Investigations undertaken by the Malaysian authorities prove the country's commitment to supporting efforts to curb the illegal transfer and proliferation of nuclear technology.