Washington, Nov 13: Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan has sensationally revealed that China had provided weapons-grade uranium, sufficient for making two atomic bombs, to Pakistan in 1982.
According to Khan's accounts in The Washington Post, the transfer of nuclear fuel was 'part of a broad-ranging, secret nuclear deal approved years earlier by Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that culminated in an exceptional, deliberate act of proliferation by a nuclear power.'
"The uranium cargo came with a blueprint for a simple weapon that China had already tested, supplying a virtual do-it-yourself kit that significantly speeded Pakistan's bomb effort. The transfer also started a chain of proliferation," the newspaper quoted Khan, who is currently under house arrest in Pakistan, as saying.
"China sent Pakistan 15 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a feedstock for Pakistan's centrifuges, which were difficult to produce on our own. The gas enabled the laboratory to begin producing bomb-grade uranium in 1982," he said.
"Chinese scientists helped the Pakistanis solve other nuclear weapons challenges, but as their competence rose, so did the fear of top Pakistani officials that Israel or India might pre-emptively strike key nuclear sites," he added.
The United States maintains that had information about the illegal nuke transfers between Pakistan and China, but has never raised the issue in public.
The issue is expected to come up for discussion during President Barack Obama's maiden Beijing visit, later this week.