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New info about A Q Khan-Iran n-nexus

By rediff International Affairs Bureau
February 27, 2005 09:45 IST
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The Washington Post reported on Sunday morning that Pakistani scientist A Q Khan contacted Iranian officials in 1987 to offer Iran knowhow to create a nuclear programme.

Complete Coverage: Pakistan's nuclear bazaar

The meeting between Iranian officials and Khan's intermediaries, the Post reported, took place in Dubai. It commenced Iran's nuclear mission as well as launched A Q Khan's business plan, where the Pakistani scientist peddled nuclear information for a high price to a variety of buyers in the Islamic world.

Iran has denied it has a nuclear weapons programme.

The Post said Iran provided information about the meeting with Khan to the International Atomic Energy Agency in January.

At the meeting in Dubai, the Post added, were present three Iranian officials, Sri Lankan businessman Mohammad Farooq -- whose nephew B S Tahir is in jail in Malaysia and believed to have provided information about Khan's nuclear blackmarket to American agents -- German supplier Heinz Mebus, one of the Pakistani scientist's associates.

Revelations about Iran and Libya's nuclear programmes compelled the United States to pressure Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf last year to curb Khan's blackmarket. Khan apologised for his dangerous activities on Pakistani television, was pardoned by Musharraf and is, according to a recent Time magazine cover story (The Merchant of Menace), a broken, depressed man.

Pakistan has refused American access to Khan, who, Islamabad claims, is under house arrest.

Khan's offer, the Post reports, included the inevitable drawings for uranium centrifuges. The price cited? Millions of dollars. However, the IAEA believes Iran bought most of its nuclear material from other -- including Chinese and Russian -- suppliers for prices far less than what Khan's intermediaries wanted.

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