Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A. Q. Khan to be released?

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist under house arrest after confessing in 2004 to assisting the nuclear weapons programs of Iran, Libya and North Korea, will soon be released, according to Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid Secretary General Syed Mushahid Hussain. The Asian News International reports Hussain’s remarks were made on the BBC Urdu’s program Talking Point.

The next day, according to Pak Tribune, S.M. Zafar, Khan’s former lawyer and a Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid senator, reported that President Pervez Musharraf has lifted some restrictions on Khan, who is now permitted to meet with some close friends and colleagues.

In his memoir In the Line of the Fire and in subsequent interviews, Musharraf alleged that Khan provided nearly two dozen prototype centrifuges suitable for uranium enrichment to North Korea. The alleged existence of a secret DPRK weapons-grade uranium-enrichment program has been a key argument of former U. N. ambassador John Bolton against the denuclearization agreement reached nearly one year ago with Pyongyang.

North Korea’s U.N. representative Kim Myong Gil’s response to these allegations was reported (in "What A. Q. Khan Knows", Washington Post, January 31, 2008) to be: "Why don’t you invite A. Q. Khan to join the negotiations?" If Musharaff’s purpose for Khan's house arrest was to shield him from foreign interrogation, it is imperative, as Khan's restrictions are loosened, that the U.S. press Islamabad for more access to the man. Answers from A. Q. Khan, however unlikely, are long overdue.

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|| headland, 9:38 AM

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