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A Q Khan 'got villa on Caspian Sea'

By Shyam Bhatia in London
January 28, 2004 16:02 IST
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Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, 'father' of Pakistan's nuclear programme, was given a villa on the Caspian Sea and lucrative fishing rights for caviar in exchange for delivering nuclear secrets to Iran, Pakistani exiles in London have alleged.

The exiles asked not to be named and it has not been possible to verify their claims, but the allegations come in the wake of continuing investigations in Pakistan to find out which nuclear scientists sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Top of the list of suspects is Khan, the Bhopal-born metallurgist who was once employed in Amsterdam by a Dutch-led consortium of European companies making nuclear centrifuges.

Enriched uranium produced by such centrifuges is used for making nuclear bombs.

Khan allegedly used his position of trust in Amsterdam to steal blueprints for making the centrifuges, which were subsequently recreated at the Khan Research Laboratories at Kahuta near Rawalpindi.

KRL-produced uranium was subsequently used in the 1998 nuclear tests.

In Pakistan Khan became a national hero. Long before the tests, one local magazine Hurmat, wrote: 'A special function should be organised, which should be attended by the federal Ombudsman, members of the Cabinet, chiefs of armed forces, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, all of the four governors and other dignitaries of the country, in which the President should confer on A Q Khan the highest award in Pakistan.'

Flush with success, Khan wrote abusive letters to Western publications that dared to comment on his activities.

To the German magazine Der Spiegel he wrote, 'Western journalism takes pride in false and malicious reporting. These bastards are God-appointed guardians of the world to stockpile hundreds and thousands of nuclear warheads. But if we start a modest programme, we are the Satan."

Another newspaper that asked why Khan had been given access to sensitive technology in the West received a mouthful of abuse. 'After all your mischief and slanderous reports, what do you expect from Dr A Q Khan -- to lick your ****holes and send you sweets and flowers?' Khan asked.

Also Read: 'When A Q Khan called me a Hindu bastard'

But Khan's 'hero' status is now being questioned in Pakistan. One reason is the personal wealth he has accumulated through the private companies he set up allegedly to export nuclear secrets.

It was one of these private companies that got the Caspian Sea contract. Another company was used to receive 'gifts' from Libya and North Korea, where Khan has been invited several times as an honoured guest.

Such super-VIP status started to rankle among thousands of Pakistani scientists who receive no more than their allotted government salaries for their valuable contributions to their country's nuclear programme.

They have been dismayed by reports of Khan living the high life as he travels first class several times a year under an assumed name to foreign countries of his choice.


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Shyam Bhatia in London