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October 9, 2001
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Pak N-Smuggler Faces Fresh UK Probe

Sanjay Suri in London

Scotland Yard has ordered a fresh inquiry into the case of a Pakistani charged with attempting to smuggle nuclear equipment out of Britain, according to official sources.

Pakistani Abu Siddique already faces seven charges of secretly trying to smuggle nuclear material that could be used for mass destruction.

The case against Siddique said he was trying to smuggle the nuclear material to the Pakistani government. But the police are now reportedly taking a hard look at whether the consignment could have been intended for other destinations.

Siddique was charged with sending a whole range of items, including a 12-tonne furnace and a gantry weighing five tonnes. He was caught when trying to smuggle out high-strength aluminium bars.

All these materials could be used for nuclear purposes, both civil and military, the prosecution had argued when Siddique was produced in court in August.

Siddique was charged with exporting the material between July 1995 and June 1998. The material was all sent without valid licences and in violation of export restrictions, prosecutor Mukul Chawla told the court.

According to the prosecution the goods were sent to A.Q. Khan, best known as "the architect of Pakistan's nuclear programme." Siddique's father was said to be a close personal friend of Khan.

"It is the Crown's case that these were destined for the Pakistani nuclear industry. They were destined to that industry to the knowledge of Siddique and knowing that was the end use of these particular goods he nevertheless lied about the use of these goods and the end user of these goods, or did not tell when told that he needed to apply for an export licence," argued the prosecutor.

A fresh inquiry has now been ordered into Siddique's antecedents and connections, according to the official sources.

The police want to guard against possibilities that the material could have been sent to a destination outside the official nuclear establishment of Pakistan, the sources said.

Siddique has denied all seven charges framed against him by the customs authorities.

Indo-Asian News Service

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