Retracting from his earlier confession that he was involved in selling nuclear secrets to Iran and Libya, Pakistan's controversial nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan on Wednesday said the business houses, based in Europe's most advanced economies, including the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Holland, provided nuclear technology to the two countries.
Speaking to a local news agency, Khan disclosed that “others got away scot-free” as a result of him taking all the blame. “Nuclear secrets had, in fact, been given to the Iranians and Libyans by European companies,” he added.
Khan said the confessions he made earlier that he sold nuclear secrets to Iran and Libya were concocted and made under pressure. Dubbed as the father of the Islamic bomb, Khan said he had accepted responsibility for the sale of nuclear secrets to these two states “in the national interest”.
Aged 72 and suffering from prostate cancer, the nuclear scientist, regarded as hero by many of his fellow Pakistanis, told the media that he wants to set the record straight. “The North Korean programme is totally based on reactor reprocessing plutonium. They had mastered this technology even before we started,” he said.
The nuclear scientist has been critical of the manner in which he has been treated by the Musharraf government. He told journalists that he has been made the black sheep for the crimes of others. However, he did not elaborate.
Pakistan's decision to ease restrictions on Dr AQ Khan, after four years of house arrest, has been on the cards since last February's elections. Almost all political parties had said that they would ease the restrictions on him if elected to power.
One of the main election promises of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party was his release and restoration to his “proper rank”.
Khan was in charge of the nuclear program when Pakistan exploded its nuclear device in 1999. He was subsequently awarded with honours by the Sharif government.
However, after it was discovered that nuclear technology had made its way from Pakistan to other countries, Dr Khan was the focus of international attention and domestic censure.