Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pervez Musharraf 'approved' sale of atomic weapons to North Korea

Pervez Musharraf 'approved' sale of atomic weapons to North Korea

The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb has accused President Pervez Musharraf of approving the sale of atomic weapons to North Korea.

Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who has lived under house arrest since 2004 when he confessed to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, has said for the first time that Pakistan's army was involved in his proliferation ring.

"It was a North Korean plane, and the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment," he said, describing the shipment of used P-1 centrifuges needed to manufacture highly enriched uranium.

"It must have gone with his [Mr Musharraf's] consent."

The explosive accusation has been swiftly denied by Pakistan's president.

"I can say with full confidence that it is all lies and false statements," said Mr Musharraf's spokesman Rashid Qureshi.

The shipment took place in 2000, a year after Mr Musharraf took power in a military coup d'etat.

Dr Khan had originally said that he alone was responsible for Pakistan's proliferation.

However, he has since retracted this confession, which he says was made to protect other Pakistani officials.

Regarded by many Pakistanis as a hero for developing the country's atomic programme, Dr Khan has grown increasingly outspoken since the election of a new government in February.

Mr Musharraf has previously written about his own efforts to stop nuclear proliferation, including ordering a raid on an aircraft suspected of carrying an "irregular" cargo.

His Western allies, including the United States, have long viewed nuclear proliferation as one of the greatest threats to world peace.

However, the country's foreign ministry says it will no longer discuss Dr Khan's case.

"The nuclear proliferation issue is a closed case," said the ministry's spokesman Mohammed Sadiq. "We do not think that a debate is required on it."

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