PAKISTAN’S NATIONAL HERO SOLD NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY TO IRAN

PARIS, 2 Feb. (IPS) The Islamic Republic was mute on Monday about reports by Pakistani press that Dr Abdol Qadir Khan, known as "the Father" of Pakistan’s atomic bomb and for that considered as a national hero had sold nuclear information to Iran.

According to Pakistani journalists who were briefed by the officials on the issue, Professor Khan told investigators he had provided nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and the Communist North Korea in order to also make them become nuclear powers and help decreasing international pressures over Pakistan.

"Dr. Khan transferred to ageing technology for enriching uranium for personal greed, without the authorisation from Islamabad, but certainly with the help of some colleagues", Reza Khan, a Pakistani journalist told the Persian service of Radio France International.

Though Iranian independent agencies like the Iranian Labour News Agency ILNA reported the news, but it failed to mention the name of Iran, saying that Khan "had sold nuclear information to Libya, North Korea and some other countries".

Actually, it was Iran that informed the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear watchdog that it bought from Pakistan the technology and some components for enriching uranium.

"That technology, Professor Khan got it in Holland during the seventies, right after India carried out its first nuclear tests", Reza Khan said, adding that nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency had found that the uranium enriching techniques and materials used by both Iran and Libya were similar to what Pakistan used to possess in its highly secret arsenal.

Because of the Muslims holiday of Sacrifice, no officials could be reached in Tehran or Islamabad, but Pakistani sources said President General Parviz Mosharraf would address the nation on the issue on Tuesday.

Informed Iranian sources said the Tehran-Islamabad cooperation in nuclear field dates back to the former Iranian regime, with the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi providing some of the badly needed financial funds to Pakistan to continue nuclear researches and sharing the information with Iran.

"That cooperation, kept highly secret, continued after the revolution and was even increased as Iran had also became an Islamic Republic like Pakistan in the one hand and the new regime, traumatised by the eight years of devastating War with Iraq, had decided to build its own nuclear bomb as a deterrent and dissuasive power", one Iranian source told Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity.

"Khan made a lot of money, with which he bought a lot of properties outside Pakistan, including a luxury hotel in an African nation named under his wife and daughter, who is now outside the country", the journalist said, confirming Islamabad’s official version of the scandal.

"The real danger for Mosharraf is the Pandora Box that the scandal might open", the French news agency AFP quoted Mr. Riff’at Hussain, a political analyst and head of the Strategic Studies at the Qa’ed-e-A’zam University of Islamabad as having commented.

"Cornered, Abdol Qadir Khan might as well tell interrogators everything, including that he sold the information with the knowledge of the Government", he added, referring to Islamabad’s categorical statements that Khan and other colleagues at the KRL (Khan Research Laboratory, after the name of Dr. Khan himself) transferred the know how without the knowledge and authorisation of the authorities.

Pakistani newspapers said the "nuclear leaking" from KRL to Iran, Libya and North Korea continued until the end of the last century and "even more as Iran and Libya are concerned". ENDS PAKISTAN IRAN 2204