Pak nuclear plans were up for sale to all: Britain

AQ Khan was selling the nuke technology in the black market to anybody who could pay his price, said the British Foreign Secretary.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2004 15:30 IST

An alarmed British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has expressed the view that Dr AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, could have been bought off by anybody, given the preliminary results of the investigations into his clandestine activities.

Addressing a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in London, Straw was quoted by The News as saying that the scale of Pakistan's nuclear technology spread to other countries was still unknown.

"We don't still know the full scale of the activity. But as President Bush explained in his speech last night, what we had here was somebody (Khan) who had made a bomb, an operational bomb, who knew all the technology and who was selling this on the black market basically to anybody who could pay his price. And we know that he had sold this technology to Libya and to other countries," Straw said.

"There has to be a new agenda in the face of this new information and threat. The crucial thing is that the network is broken up, and in that respect, we are getting full cooperation from the Government of Pakistan," Straw stressed.

He, however, refused to comment on President Pervez Musharraf's decision to pardon Khan.

"How Dr Khan is dealt with is an internal matter for the Government of Pakistan, and the only relative reassurance that I can provide, is that there are relatively few people with the skills and experience and access to nuclear material and equipment that Dr Khan had for many years," he said.

The fact that Khan's network had been smashed was "a huge tribute to American and to British intelligence", Straw said.

"The whole of the world, literally, owes them a very great debt of gratitude for what they have done and I venture to suggest... that the only thing they didn't quite get right, by a margin, was the scale of the activity which they had begun to uncover," he added.

First Published: Feb 17, 2004 00:00 IST