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Khan says Musharraf neck deep in proliferation

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 03, 2004 19:35 IST
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Top Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan, under investigation now for allegedly selling nuclear technology to other countries, has said President Pervez Musharraf himself is neck deep in nuclear proliferation, the Washington Post quoted a senior Pakistani investigator as saying.

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The report is an embarrassment to the Bush Administration, which views Musharraf as its best bet in the region against terrorism and proliferation of WMD.

According to the Pakistani investigator Khan has told investigators that Musharraf, former premier Benazir Bhutto and ex-army chiefs Mirza Aslam Beg and Jehangir Karamat were all involved in nuclear proliferation.

Khan said he helped North Korea design and equip facilities for making weapons-grade uranium with the knowledge
of senior military commanders, including Musharraf.

Khan also told investigators that Gen Beg was aware of assistance the
scientist was providing to Iran's nuclear programme and that the two other army chiefs, in addition to Musharraf, knew and approved of his efforts on behalf of Pyongyang, he said.

Khan's assertions of high-level army involvement came in the course of a probe into allegations that he and other Pakistani scientists made millions of dollars from selling equipment and expertise to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

They contradict repeated contentions by Musharraf and other officials that Khan and at least one other scientist, Mohammed Farooq, acted out of greed and in violation of long standing government policy that bars the export of nuclear weapons technology.

In conversations with investigators, Khan urged them to question Musharraf, asserting that "no debriefing is complete unless you bring everyone of them here and debrief us together," according to the friend who has met the accused
scientist twice during the past two months.

The investigator said Khan claimed that Karamat was privy to the details of the barter arrangement through which Pakistan received the missile, and that Khan had insisted that Karamat's role also be examined.

Khan has also asserted that Musharraf had to have been aware of the agreement with North Korea because the general
took over responsibility for the Ghauri missile programme when he became the chief of staff in October 1998.

On the basis of Khan's claims, Beg and Karamat have been questioned by investigators in recent days, but both have denied any knowledge of the transactions Khan has spoken of, a senior Pakistani military officer said.

General Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan's chief military spokesman, asserted that "General Pervez Musharraf neither authorised such transfers nor was involved in any way with such deeds, even before he was President."


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