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'Pak nuclear proliferator visited Switzerland several times'

The Pakistani mastermind of a network that spread nuclear weapons technology visited Switzerland several times in recent decades, officials have said.

world Updated: Feb 24, 2004 09:26 IST

The Pakistani mastermind of a network that spread nuclear weapons technology visited Switzerland several times in recent decades, officials have said.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, who has been linked to a family of Swiss engineers suspected of involvement in his network, last came to Switzerland in 1997, said the Swiss officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They confirmed on Monday a report in the weekly Zurich-based SonntagsBlick, which said Khan first came to Switzerland in the late 1970s.

The newspaper, which said Khan's visits were "presumably to develop his dubious deals in the nuclear business," quoted an unidentified nuclear expert from St Gallen as saying, "Kahn basically visited all the companies from which he ordered products."

China is widely assumed to have been the key supplier of much of the nuclear technology that Khan used in making Pakistan a nuclear power in 1998.

But Khan, who has confessed to leaking weapons secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, also allegedly used precision technology from Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.

A Swiss family of engineers on Saturday confirmed that Friedrich Tinner, the 67-year-old engineer whose son already is under investigation in the case, has known Khan since the 1970s. But the Tinners denied any wrongdoing.

A report by Malaysian police on the nuclear proliferation network last week named Friedrich Tinner as one of Khan's associates.

First Published: Feb 24, 2004 03:05 IST