US does not want A. Q. Khan’s nuclear black market up again

February 12th, 2009 - 10:07 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 12 (IANS) As US does not want to see notorious Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s nuclear black market up and running again, its special representative Richard Holbrooke has raised the issue of his release with Islamabad.
“I think he certainly raised this issue,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters Wednesday, but he could not say whether he too was given the same assurances that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood gave to a senior US official last week.

US Deputy Secretary James Steinberg during a meeting with Qureshi in Munich expressed US concern about a Pakistani court’s decision to release Khan accused of selling nuclear secrets in the black market to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

“Steinberg was looking for assurances from the Pakistani Government that Khan would not continue to be a proliferation threat. We were given those assurances. We’ll have to see how things go,” Wood said.

“We certainly don’t want to see that black market up and operating, and we’ ll continue to follow the issue very closely,” he said. “But the Deputy Secretary received assurances from the Pakistani Government…”

As the US was concerned by the court’s decision, Steinberg wanted to make sure that the Pakistanis understood how seriously we take this and wanted assurances, Wood said when asked how the Pakistanis would be able to stop Khan, considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.

He “was given verbal assurances. And we’ll just have to see how that plays out,” he added.

Meanwhile, Holbrooke Wednesday visited tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan and met with government and military officials, as well as leaders from civil society. In the tribal areas, he visited the Khyber Pass and the Bajaur Agency, where Pakistani security forces have been fighting insurgent extremists.

Asked if a suicide attack in Kabul Wednesday was connected with Holbrooke’s visit, Wood said: “I have no reason to be able to draw that kind of a conclusion. We just don’t know. Those attacks are being investigated by the Afghan authorities.”

“I don’t believe so, no,” he said when asked if Holbrooke was anywhere near where another attack took place in Pakistan.

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