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Iran clears AQ Khan of proliferation charges

The 'clearing' of Pakistan's name by Iran even as the government announced in Islamabad that Khan had "fully recovered" six weeks after a prostate cancer surgery.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 15:04 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Claiming its nuclear programme was indigenous, Iran has 'cleared' Pakistan, especially its disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan, of having been involved in the proliferation of nuclear technology to Tehran.

This has prompted a section of Pakistanis to launch an offensive against the government in general and President Pervez Musharraf in particular for being "on the defensive" in the face of "Western propaganda" and demand that the ailing Khan, now under house detention, be treated better.

The 'clearing' of Pakistan's name by Iran even as the government announced in Islamabad that Khan had "fully recovered" six weeks after a prostate cancer surgery.

Iran's former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and National Security Council secretary general Ali Larijani told a team of visiting Pakistani journalists that Iran's nuclear programme was fully indigenous.

Larijani "categorically denied receiving centrifuges from Pakistan. This gives lie to reports regarding Tehran having confessed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that centrifuges supplied by Khan were the source of the high-level nuclear contamination allegedly detected in one of Iran's nuclear facilities," The Nation said.

Larijani had reiterated that his country's national security doctrine did not visualise pursuit of nuclear weapons and that is why it had signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the newspaper said.

"During the last four years Qadeer has been portrayed as the father of nuclear proliferation. The charge has been used to create doubts about Pakistan's ability to maintain nuclear safeguards.

As Larijani has pointed out, the motive behind the propaganda was to malign Iran and keep Pakistan under pressure," it observed.

Khan has been placed under detention since January 2004 after his role in proliferation was exposed.

According to reports, the recipients of Khan's proliferation of nuclear technology have included North Korea, Libya and Iran.

While promoting his memoirs, 'In the Line of Fire", Musharraf had said that Khan's involvement in nuclear proliferation - illegally exporting nuclear designs and spares - became known when he (Musharraf) was confronted with documentary evidence by the then director of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George Tenet.

Musharraf's open criticism of Khan, whom he considers a "national hero", has been severely criticised by opposition parties and the media.

Musharraf said he had no choice but to act against Khan, since the entire operation, spread over years, was without the knowledge and consent of successive Pakistani governments.

Defence analysts have doubted this claim of Musharraf, saying that nuclear spares could not have been taken out using aircrafts without the direct involvement of Pakistani authorities at the highest level.

They have argued that Khan did not have the means to send out these nuclear technologies on his own.

First Published: Nov 26, 2006 15:03 IST