US objects to release of Pakistani nuclear scientist

February 7th, 2009 - 4:13 am ICT by IANS  

Pervez MusharrafWashington, Feb 7 (DPA) The release of Pakistan’s leading atomic scientist who confessed to running a nuclear smuggling network would be “extremely regrettable”, the US State Department said Friday.A Pakistani court Friday ruled that Abdul Qadeer Khan should be freed after five years of house arrest for providing sensitive nuclear material and information to countries like Iran, Libya and North Korea.

The US was trying to reach Pakistani officials for a clarification on the court’s ruling, State Department deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid said.

“If he is released, we think it would be extremely regrettable. This man remains a serious proliferation risk,” Duguid said.

“The proliferation support that Khan and his associates provided to Iran and North Korea has had a harmful impact on international security and will for years to come,” he added.

Khan was placed under house arrest by the government of former president Pervez Musharraf in 2004 after he made a televised confession for leaking nuclear secrets. He later retracted the statement.

Khan’s lawyer announced that a court had designated him for release. Regarded as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Khan is a national hero and pressure has mounted in recent years on the government to set him free.

Khan has said he would not engage in nuclear activities and planned to establish an institution to promote engineering and industrial education.

The US government Jan 12 slapped sanctions on Khan, 12 other individuals and three private companies suspected of proliferating nuclear material.

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