A spy story with all the ingredients for a best-selling novel provided the inspiration for Paul Winter’s 2018 doctoral research project, funded in part by a Foundation research grant.
The story begins in 2003 with a ship leaving Malaysia bound for Libya, carrying components for use in the construction of a nuclear bomb. Its seizure by British and U.S. intelligence revealed that Pakistani scientist A Q Khan had been illegally selling nuclear weapons technology in kitset form to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
“Khan avoided export controls by having the various parts produced in different countries like Malaysia,” Paul explains. “Individually the pieces looked like stuff you might use for something else. But they came together with an instruction manual for a nuclear bomb.”
Fifteen years later Paul’s research was to focus on the development and implementation of Malaysia’s export controls around dual-use and sensitive nuclear components.
Paul interviewed scholars and policy experts in his three weeks in Malaysia about “some of the more esoteric parts” of Malaysia’s export control system. “I was super lucky,” he says, “I met one university contact who was my gateway to other interviewees. It’s all about who you know. Personal connections are really important.”
Paul retains his contacts in his current role as an analyst with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Looking back, he says the Foundation’s support for his attendance as a student at Track II meetings kept him involved with Asia. “And I’m pretty certain I won my doctoral scholarship at Otago, my Fulbright scholarship, and my Freyberg scholarship in part due to the experiences I’ve had in Asia – many of these coming from the Foundation,” he said.
Paul belongs to the Leadership Network, which he says offers “extraordinary benefits”. What more could the Foundation do? He’d like to see it churn out more of its “very useful” research reports.