US still ‘plumbing’ A. Q. Khan network

July 15th, 2008 - 10:09 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 15 (IANS) Notorious Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and his nuclear black market network may be out of business, but it’s still a “matter of continuing interest” to the US. “We’ve learned a lot. The network’s broken up. It’s out of business,” state department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Monday”. “But I think we as well as others are still plumbing the extent of all of the A.Q. Khan network’s activities.”

Asked if the US had raised with Pakistan Islamabad’s reported decision not to investigate Khan’s allegations that the Pakistani military was involved in shipping nuclear components to North Korea, he said: “I’m not going to get into any specific allegations.”

“But certainly, learning more about the work of A.Q. Khan and his network certainly is something we are interested in. It’s a matter of continuing interest for us,” McCormack said.

The spokesman said to his knowledge the Pakistani Government had never given the US access to A.Q. Khan. But he did not know what the most recent discussions were about it.

“But I know it’s a matter of continuing interest for us - determining exactly the full extent of that network’s activities with A.Q. Khan being at the centre of it.”

In reply to another question about increase in violence in Afghanistan, McCormack said the US had talked to Pakistan about it as “there is a deep concern about cross-border infiltration from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and then back over the border into Pakistan once again.”

“And as you might imagine, it’s a complicated issue, but it’s fundamental to the security of both of those countries, because you have people operating out of Pakistan that pose a threat to Afghanistan,” he said.

“Ultimately, too, let’s remember that those kinds of groups, those kinds of individuals aren’t necessarily content to direct their energies outwardly, and they pose a real threat to Pakistan and the Pakistani people as well,” McCormack said.

Without getting into specifics, he said US had talked to Pakistan about the importance of engaging in the counter-terrorism fight. “Pakistan, I believe, understands this. They understand the importance of engaging in the counter-terrorism fight.”

“We talked to them about that. I don’t want to get into specifics. I’ll leave that for closed-door diplomacy,” McCormack said. “But it is a real concern for us.”

Asked to comment on reports that the US defence department was attributing the rise of violence in Afghanistan to Pakistan not doing enough to curb cross border infiltration, he said: “Well, I’ll leave it to the military folks to describe the situation on the ground, where they see the threats coming from.”

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