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'US overlooked Pak nuke program'

Pakistan's nuclear program was overlooked by the US in its initial year as Islamabad got involved in the Afghan war against Soviet Union, which resulted in making the bomb in a quick period of six years, AQ Khan the maligned Pakistani nuclear scientist said.

world Updated: Sep 09, 2009 10:35 IST

Pakistan's nuclear program was overlooked by the US in its initial year as Islamabad got involved in the Afghan war against Soviet Union, which resulted in making the bomb in a quick period of six years, AQ Khan the maligned Pakistani nuclear scientist said.

"I maintain that the war had provided us with space to enhance our nuclear capability," the Pak nuclear scientist said in an interview to an Urdu Pakistani television channel.

"The credit (for the nuclear bomb) goes to me and my team, because it was a very difficult task, which was next to impossible. But given the US and European pressure on our program, it is true that had the Afghan war not taken place at that time, we would not have been able to make the bomb as early as we did," Khan told the Aaj News Television.

The interview with Khan, who was recently released from house arrest, was broadcast in Karachi on August 31. It was helpfully translated from Urdu by the Directorate of National Intelligence's Open Source Center.

The translated interview has not been publicly released, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

Khan, who was put under house arrest by the previous Musharraf regime, from which he was released early this year said, Pakistan was ready to test a nuclear weapon just six years after it first began to enrich uranium.