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Nuke Ring Work of Government, Not Khan, Musharraf Says
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asserted the onetime large-scale nuclear proliferation ring operated out of his country was created by the Pakistani government and not former nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Washington Times reported yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 29).
"This massive network was not of A.Q. Khan's," Musharraf told the Times. "The massive network was of the Pakistan government and our intelligence, not of A.Q. Khan's network."
Khan was confined to his home for five years after he admitted in 2004 to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. The scientist, who was freed last year, said in the past he had operated the proliferation ring with support from the Pakistani government. Islamabad has barred foreign governments and the media from interviewing him (see GSN, March 23).
Musharraf, who is thought to be preparing to run for president in 2013, said he had no firsthand knowledge that Khan was selling Pakistani nuclear secrets abroad. He did admit, however that "he may be having his own network for proliferation or whatever he was doing, but the network of the acquisition of our strategic capability was (owned by) the government of Pakistan."
Musharraf stepped down from the presidency in 2008, a year after he resigned as head of the South Asian state's military.
"I find it hard to believe, and have always found it hard to believe, that the Pakistani military did not know what nuclear deals were being done by Khan on behalf of the country," Washington-based analyst Simon Henderson said.
Musharraf stood by his earlier decision to block U.S. access to Khan, whom he described as "a bit of a braggart" for exaggerating his role in building the country's initial nuclear weapon.
"We have interrogated him and we have given the United States the information," Musharraf said in the interview. "You are implying either we are incapable of interrogating him, which is wrong and insulting, or secondly this means that we are bluffing, which is also unacceptable and an insult to the Pakistani people."
Pakistan's response to the Khan proliferation ring continues to be a thorn in Washington-Islamabad ties.
Musharraf also asserted the United States did not have any access to his country's strategic stockpile (Eli Lake, Washington Times, Nov. 14).
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