Washington, Feb 6: The Pakistan embassy in Washington has said that nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan will not be handed over to a foreign country for investigative purposes.
Embassy spokesman Akram Shaheedi said in an article for the Washington Post that no government in Pakistan could afford to take this step. He was reacting to a critical article by Selig Harrison that criticised the soft approach taken on Khan by the Musharraf regime. Pakistan, Shaheedi claimed has investigated the nuclear proliferation matter thoroughly and had shared its findings with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"It is unfair and offensive to malign Pakistan's leadership on such a sensitive issue as nuclear proliferation. This analysis was built on hearsay rather than substance and the facts," the Daily Times quotes Shaheedi, as saying.
He also argued that there is no link between the AQ Khan issue and the war on terrorism, and added that the United States and the international community are fully aware of Pakistan's role in the war on terrorism.
Khan, is widely regarded as the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program.
In January 2004, Khan confessed to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea. On February 5, 2004, President General Pervez Musharraf, announced that he had pardoned Dr. Khan as he was a national hero.
In an August 23, 2005 interview with Kyodo News, Musharraf confirmed that Khan had supplied gas centrifuges and gas centrifuge parts to North Korea and, possibly, an amount of uranium hexafluoride gas.
Khan came under scrutiny following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan to oust the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It emerged that al-Qaeda had made repeated efforts to obtain nuclear weapons materials to build either a radiological bomb or a crude nuclear bomb. In late October 2001, the Pakistani government arrested three Pakistani nuclear scientists, all with close ties to Khan, for their suspected connections with the Taliban.
The Bush administration continued to investigate Pakistani nuclear weapons proliferation, ratcheting up the pressure on the Pakistani government in 2001 and 2002 and focusing on Khan's personal role. He has been under house arrest since February 2004.