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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-312110 Pakistan / Nuclear (L)







INTRO: Pakistan has revealed that it sent a team of investigators to Libya and Iran to look into allegations that some of the country's top nuclear scientists may have been involved in the transfer of nuclear weapons technology. Officials say Pakistan launched a probe into the proliferation issue after the International Atomic Energy Agency sent a letter warning of possible technology transfers. The Pakistani statement marks the first time the government in Islamabad has acknowledged a possible unofficial link to Libya's aborted nuclear program. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

TEXT: Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says authorities are still interrogating nine scientists and former military officials in connection with alleged leaks of nuclear know-how to Iran and Libya.

Mr. Ahmed says the probe was prompted by a query from the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency over possible links between Pakistani experts and the Iranian and Libyan nuclear research efforts.

/// AHMED ACT ///

There were some reports from I-A-E-A and they have mentioned certain reservations and that's why this group (Pakistani experts) was asked certain questions and still this process is on. If there is somebody innocent, we don't want to keep him with us, and if there is somebody guilty, the law is going to take action.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Ahmed says that after being contacted by the U-N agency, Pakistan sent fact-finding missions to both Libya and Iran. Following those trips, authorities began questioning officials and scientists linked to the country's top nuclear facility.

Pakistan is a declared nuclear power, having tested its first atomic bomb in 1998.

The Pakistani information minister says that some of those detained for questioning have now been released, but he refused to give details on the investigation itself. He adds, the probe, which began in December, is expected to conclude within a week. Officials say the creator of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, a national hero, has also been questioned but has not been detained. (SIGNED)


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