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Khan saw North Korean nukes

Last updated on: April 14, 2004 19:57 IST
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Pakistan said Wednesday it was sharing information from a probe into proliferation by its nuclear godfather Abdul Qadeer Khan but refused to confirm reports that he had seen three nuclear bombs in North Korea.

The metallurgist, hailed as a national hero in Pakistan for creating its nuclear programme, told interrogators he was shown the devices at a secret underground plant when he visited North Korea five years ago, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"I have seen the report," Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan told a weekly press briefing, but he declined to elaborate, saying only: "I would not like to go into specifics."

He added: "We have been sharing information with the international community and other countries who have a direct interest in this matter."

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters that Washington "has received significant amounts of information from Pakistan about the network, about Mr Khan's activities, about the activities of his associates, about others who were involved."

"We would note that Mr Khan has admitted to assisting North Korea's enrichment program, and his admissions have put the lie to North Korea's denials," Boucher said. 

The Times report quoted US officials who had been briefed by the Pakistani government. It said US Vice President Dick Cheney was expected to cite the intelligence report on North Korean nuclear activities when he meets Chinese leaders in Beijing, where he is on a two-day visit. The US has accused North Korea of pursuing uranium-enriched nuclear weapons and says it has an intelligence assessment that Pyongyang has produced one or two plutonium-based nuclear weapons.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has pardoned Khan for his self-confessed sale of nuclear expertise and technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan said in a televised confession that he acted without government or military support.


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