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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 11:21 GMT
Pakistan rejects scientist claim
AQ Khan Pakistani nuclear scientist
Khan confessed last year to leaking nuclear secrets
Pakistan has dismissed a magazine article that said the US was probing whether disgraced scientist AQ Khan sold nuclear secrets to Arab nations.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Time magazine's claims were "distorted" and "baseless".

The magazine quoted Pakistani defence sources as saying the US was probing sales to Saudi Arabia and others.

Pakistan pardoned Dr Khan after he admitted illegally transferring nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

There is nothing in [the case of] Saudi Arabia that may be attributed to Pakistan
Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

But the scientist, still regarded as a hero by many in Pakistan as the father of the nation's nuclear programme, has been under virtual house arrest since his pardon early last year.

The Time magazine report also said Dr Khan's role in helping Iran and North Korea was greater than originally thought.

The article said: "US intelligence officials believe Khan sold North Korea much of the material needed to build a bomb, including high-speed centrifuges used to enrich uranium and the equipment required to manufacture more of them."

'Biggest proliferator'

Mr Ahmed said Time had made "distortions in its story".

Supporters of Mr AQ Khan prior to his confession
Khan is still regarded as a hero by many in Pakistan

"There is nothing in [the case of] Saudi Arabia that may be attributed to Pakistan," he said.

However, he did not rule out that Dr Khan's network may have been more extensive than believed.

"We don't know of any other country that he gave nuclear technology to. But if there is another country, we will investigate. If there are any questions [for Khan] we will ask them."

Mr Ahmed also rejected a claim in Time that cylinders used for uranium enrichment had gone missing from the Khan Research Laboratories facility.

"All those items are listed and all are there," he said.

The US has given questions to Pakistan to ask Dr Khan but has not been allowed to interrogate him.

Mr Ahmed again insisted the scientist "will not be handed over to anyone".

The US has called Dr Khan the "biggest proliferator" of nuclear technology.

Dr Khan held the post of scientific adviser since retiring as head of the country's top nuclear facility in 2001 but was sacked after his confession.

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