Pak scientist: Nuclear design reports 'rubbish'

A nuclear watchdog's report said that the designs were found on the smugglers' computers.

Pak scientist: Nuclear design reports 'rubbish'
Pakistan's top nuclear scientist rejected on Tuesday the reports that he was the source of sophisticated warhead designs found on the computers of Swiss smugglers.

A nuclear watchdog's report said that the designs were found on the smugglers' computers.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in a report released this week that Swiss investigators had found the encrypted designs in 2004 on the computers of three Swiss smugglers "associated with Abul Qadeer Khan", who headed work on Pakistan's nuclear programme.

But Khan, who has been kept under house arrest in Islamabad since 2004, denied that the designs came from him.

"It's pure lies and nonsense. It's part of America's campaign to pressure Pakistan," Khan told Reuters by telephone.

Admired by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, Khan confessed on television in early 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

But in recent interviews he has recanted, saying that he only took the blame in return for assurances by President Pervez Musharraf's government that were never honoured.

Musharraf did grant Khan a pardon but kept him under house arrest. The scientist said he had expected to be rehabilitated and allowed to travel freely in Pakistan.

"It's rubbish"

The designs on the Swiss computers were smaller and more sophisticated than one Libya bought from Khan and would fit on a ballistic missile, the ISIS said.

"These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other customers, Iran and North Korea," it said.

But Khan said he and his Khan Research Laboratory (KRL) had worked on simple weapons design, not sophisticated ones.

"What we developed in 1983 was a simple, functional weapon and after that neither I nor KRL worked on it," he said.

"It served our purpose, we stopped working on it ... we did not go for advancement nor did we have the facility to do that," he said.

"It's rubbish. We did not work on any improvement or so-called miniaturisation."

Pakistan says it considers its investigation of Khan to be closed.

U.S. and other foreign investigators are pressuring Pakistan to question Khan but the government has blocked access to him, saying it has shared information gleaned from him with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Khan is 72 and underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2006.

Pakistan's new coalition government, formed after the defeat of Musharraf's allies in a February election, has relaxed some restrictions on Khan, although he remains under detention at his home in a leafy neighbourhood at the foot of the Margalla Hills.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf overthrew in a 1999 coup and whose party is now a major coalition partner, has said Khan should be freed.

Reuters
Last Mod: 18 Haziran 2008, 09:05
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