US lawmakers urge probe into Pak scientist's nuclear activities

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Washington, Jun 27 (UNI) US Congress has urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask the new Pakistan government for direct access to nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan and ensure that he is not released from house arrest following the new information regarding the nuclear proliferation activities of his network.

Recent reports had indicated that the Khan network may have transferred designs for smaller, more sophisticated nuclear warheads than were previously known publicly.

Led by Chairman Howard L Berman (Democrat), four key members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Ms Rice yesterday to convey their deep concerns on the reports.

These designs could allow states like Iran to more easily produce smaller nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, significantly increasing the potential nuclear threat from Iran to Israel and our European allies, the letter said.

Ever since his network was publicly revealed in 2003, Congress has been very concerned about the lack of access that the government of Pakistan has given the United States to interview Dr Khan about the extent of his activities.

A full investigation on the actions and activities of Dr Khan has therefore not been possible, it said.

The letter said, now, more than ever, we must be allowed to gain direct access to A Q Khan to conduct a full investigation and find out what designs were smuggled and to whom.

The United States no longer has the luxury of relying on second-hand information from Pakistani authorities on Khan's activities where our fundamental national security is concerned, it added.

UNI XC RJ AS1632

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