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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pakistan's nuclear secrets leaked

General Pervez MusharrafPakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said ''ego satisfaction and money'' lured his country's top nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan to leak nuclear secrets to Iran and other countries.
In an interview to the CBS television's ''60-Minute'' show, which was telecast last night, Gen Musharraf described Dr Khan as ''a self-promoter obsessed with fame and power, a lone wolf who exerted personal control over key aspects of Pakistan's nuclear operations and was able to transfer top secret technology with no official help''.

The interview was aired on the eve of the release of Gen Musharraf's 368-page book, ''In the Line of Fire: A Memoir'', which says Dr A Q Khan shipped two dozen centrifuges to North Korea and 18 tonnes of material and centrifuges to Libya and Iran.
When asked how was all of this material moved without someone in the government or the army finding out about it, President Musharraf said, ''First of all, bringing these centrifuges or their parts, these are not huge elements. They can be put into your car and moved.'' He recalled that whenever such complaints were brought to his notice, his stock reply was ''give me evidence. Give me proof''. Gen Musharraf said proof was presented to him three years later which he said was one of the most embarrassing moments in his career.

During a trip to the United States, the Pakistani leader recalled, he was asked by President Bush to meet CIA Director George Tenet on a very important matter, where he was confronted with sensitive documents that proved someone in Pakistan was selling nuclear secrets.
''He (the CIA Chief) took his briefcase out, passed me some papers, told me to have a look and I saw that it was a centrifuge design, with all it's numbers and signatures - of Pakistan,'' Gen Musharrraf said.

He said he took the documents and began his own investigation, discovering that highly sophisticated nuclear technology was sent not only to North Korea but also to Iran. The culprit was Dr A Q Khan, the country's father of the nuclear weapons programme, he said. For years, Dr Khan controlled some of Pakistan's most sensitive nuclear facilities, and claimed credit as father of its atomic bomb.

To make matters worse, he pointed out, the US and Britain intercepted this shipment of nuclear supplies that Libya had purchased from Pakistan in 2003.
He said the world was demanding a harsh punishment for Dr A Q Khan but he believed the Pakistani people would not tolerate a long trial and prison sentence because ''today, he's a hero of Pakistan. Because he's given us the atom bomb''.

Gen Musharraf had Dr Khan arrested and later pardoned him, placing him under house arrest.



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