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AQ Khan sold nuclear secrets: Musharraf

Khan has been pardoned because Musharraf considers him a 'hero-who gave Pakistan the atomic bomb.'

india Updated: Sep 25, 2006 09:47 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has confirmed that AQ Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, sold nuclear centrifuge designs, 18 tons of centrifuge parts and even 2000 complete units to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

But he pardoned him because "today he is a hero of Pakistan-he gave us the atomic bomb." But Khan has been kept under house arrest where he is "comfortable," he said.

Others had not been allowed access to Khan because he may spill the beans about Pakistani military's participation in the selling of nuclear technology. But, Musharraf commented, "it's absolutely not the case".

Both Bush and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were satisfied with the action taken against Khan who probably sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets for "ego satisfaction-and money".

Musharraf admitted that it was "a most embarrassing moment" when during a visit to Washington he was confronted with the evidence against Khan.

During that visit Bush asked him to meet CIA director George Tenet to discuss something "important". Tenet came, opened his brief case and handed him some papers to look at. "I saw that it was a centrifuge design with all our numbers and markings."

He then went back and started his own investigations before taking action against Khan.

Asked how Khan could cart away so much material under the watchful eye of the military, Musharraf first said that centrifuges were small things, then suggested that it could have been taken away in his car in parts.

But he would not agree that it demonstrated the weakness of Pakistani security. In fact, it is strong, he asserted. The military was there to guard the nuclear establishment from external elements and not Khan. When the Pakistani scientist asked security men to put something in his car or C-130 transport planes, they did so.

First Published: Sep 25, 2006 09:47 IST