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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Pakistan tightens nuclear control
Pakistan's Shaheen 2 missile
Pakistan is to hold confidence-building talks with India this month
Pakistan's cabinet has approved a draft bill to tighten rules on the export of nuclear technology.

It follows a UN resolution last week urging members not to allow technology to fall into the hands of terrorists.

It also comes after revelations earlier this year that Pakistan's top nuclear scientist leaked secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

The new law would provide for a maximum jail term of 14 years and a top fine of $285,000.

Investigation

The bill will now go before parliament and a BBC Urdu service correspondent says it is unlikely to attract opposition.

The bill covers export controls on material, equipment and technologies related to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.

Dr A Q Khan and President Musharraf in Rawalpindi
Dr Khan (left) was pardoned by President Musharraf

A government statement said: "The draft bill manifests Pakistan's strong commitment to the prevention of proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons and missiles capable of delivering such weapons."

Last week, the United Nations passed a resolution to try to prevent nuclear technology from falling out of state control.

Pakistani officials said offenders would be severely punished under the new rules, although they would not affect Abdul Qadeer Khan, who admitted leaking secrets.

The man labelled the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf after his confession but remains under close surveillance.

A full investigation has yet to be completed but the government says there was no state involvement.

Foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan said the new legislation was the culmination of four years' work.

"I think that this is big news for us," he said.

Pakistan and its rival India will hold nuclear confidence-building talks later this month as part of their roadmap to peace hammered out earlier this year.

The nations have already agreed some measures in relation to nuclear arms, including an annual exchange of information on the location of each other's nuclear installations and facilities.


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