The CIA helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by Pakistani scientist A Q Khan, the spy agency’s new director Mike Pompeo has said. “CIA has been a crucial player in the global campaign against nuclear proliferation,” Pompeo said in his remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a top American think-tank. “We’ve helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A Q Khan, assisted in exposing a covert nuclear facility in Syria, and gathered intelligence — with the help of our liaison partners — that persuaded Libya to abandon its nuclear programme,” he said in his first major policy speech after he became the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Pakistan’s nuclear record is clouded with the architect of its nuclear weapons programme, Khan, accused of clandestinely giving North Korea nuclear weapons technology. Pompeo said the CIA has also been at the forefront of cutting edge technological innovation throughout the history. “We led efforts to develop the U-2 aircraft and orbiting satellites — endeavours that allowed us to surveil activities in rival states that were otherwise closed to us,” Pompeo said.
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The CIA has pushed back the boundaries of the possible in ways that have benefited both the security and welfare of the American public, he said. “For example, when we needed long-lasting power sources for certain operational missions, in the 1960s our scientists helped to develop the lithium-ion battery—technology that ultimately has powered pacemakers and cell phones alike,” he said.
More recently, the CIA investment in a technology venture in 2003 led to the development of what today is known as Google Earth, Pompeo said “My first few months on the job have only reaffirmed for me that this innovative spirit is very much alive and well at CIA,” he said.
Describing CIA as a foreign intelligence agency, Pompeo said it is focused on collecting information about foreign governments, foreign terrorist organisations and the like-not Americans. “A number of specific rules keep us centred on that mission and protect the privacy of our fellow Americans. To take just one important example, CIA is legally prohibited from spying on people through electronic surveillance in the United States,” he said. “We’re not tapping anyone’s phone in Wichita,” Pompeo added.