Centrifuge transfers with Musharraf’s consent: A.Q. Khan

July 5th, 2008 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 4 (IANS) Pakistan’s nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is under house arrest, Friday said that if any centrifuges were sent to North Korea that would have been done with the consent of President Pervez Musharraf and under the army’s supervision. “I haven’t said that centrifuges were sent to North Korea under the president’s supervision; rather I said that if they were sent, they would have been sent with Musharraf’s consent and under the army’s supervision,” Khan told IANS while clarifying remarks attributed to him by an international news agency.

“They have distorted by remarks,” Khan said, adding he had’t said anything new during his telephonic interview with the agency.

“President Musharraf in his book (”In The Line Of Fire”) has already stated that centrifuges were smuggled out of Pakistan and in response to this, I only said that such an operation must have taken place with the president’s consent.”

Khan’s statement to the agency invited an immediate reaction from the government, which attributed “ulterior motives” to it.

“I am not sure that such a statement has been given (by Khan),” a foreign office official told IANS, adding: “We’ll have to see the contents of the interview.”

“It was a North Korean plane, and the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment,” the agency quoted Khan saying. “It must have gone with his (Musharraf’s) consent.”

Khan’s allegations are his most controversial yet and could prove deeply embarrassing for both the army and Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led war on terror.

People in Pakistan regard Khan as a hero and mentor of Pakistan’s nuclear programme that gave the country a nuclear bomb in 1998.

After his 2004 confession and televised statement expressing contrition for proliferating the country’s nuclear secrets, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf but has been kept under virtual house arrest at his spacious villa on outskirts of Islamabad.

Since a new civilian government took power after the February general elections, eclipsing Musharraf, the retired scientist has increasingly spoken out in the media and has also participated in a couple of functions.

“I am still under house arrest…it is wrong to say that I am a free man,” he told IANS on telephone from his house. When told that his statement to the news agency could damage the country’s reputation he said: “It’s not me and I haven’t said anything new, he (Musharraf) has already said this in his biography.”

Asked why he had taken sole responsibility for the nuclear proliferation, Khan said he had been told it was in the national interest.

Khan said that in return, he had been promised complete freedom but “those promises were not honoured”.

Khan’s wife this week petitioned the Islamabad High Court for an end to the restrictions on her husband’s movements and for his freedom to speak to the media. Also Friday, a lawyer for Khan alleged that his home had been bugged.

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