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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Musharraf nuclear claims attacked
By Gordon Corera
Security correspondent, BBC News

Abdul Qadeer Khan
Dr Khan's confessions sparked worldwide concern
The daughter of disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan has criticised claims made by President Pervez Musharraf in his autobiography.

In her first statement since her father's arrest in 2004, Dina Khan said she wanted to set the record straight.

She said suggestions that her father asked her to go public on Pakistan's nuclear secrets were "ludicrous".

Dr Khan was put under house arrest after admitting passing nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Perhaps the hope is to have him rot quietly at home, forgotten by all
Dina Khan

In his book, President Musharraf said that Dr Khan sent a letter to his daughter, Dina, asking her to "go public on Pakistan's nuclear secrets" through British journalists.

Now, Dina Khan has hit back. In a statement provided to the BBC, she says that Gen Musharraf's claims are "ludicrous".

Instead, she claims that the letter was for her mother, Dr Khan's wife, and gave details of what had really happened.

'Paying the price'

Dr Khan's arrest followed a tense period in which US pressure on Pakistan to act against him was building.

The cover of President Pervez Musharraf's memoirs
Evidence of nuclear arms transfers to Iran would damage Musharraf

But moving against Dr Khan was tricky, not least because he remained intensely popular in parts of Pakistan thanks to his role in building Pakistan's own nuclear bomb.

He also knew a lot of secrets about the country, including who at the top might have known about his illicit activities passing on technology.

It has long been assumed that one of the reasons he has never been put on trial - or interrogated by the CIA - was because of who he might be able to implicate.

Details of the letter to his daughter were intended to be released in the event of something happening to Dr Khan.

"The letter gave his version of what actually transpired and requested my mother release those details in the event of my father being killed or made to disappear," Dina Khan said.

She says the letter mentioned "people and places" but contained no nuclear blueprints or information.

Dina Khan also says she was questioned by the British security service MI5 about the document but they were satisfied she had not committed any crimes and was not in possession of any important information.

"The mistake my father made was in being far too vocal in his opinion about those in power, and as a result he is now paying the price," she writes.

She says that her sister was forbidden from seeing her parents for a period of months, and that she was not allowed to travel to Pakistan for a year.

"Our mail is opened, our mobiles are tapped and the house is bugged."

'US pressure'

When he was placed under house arrest, pressure had been building on Dr Khan for a number of months.

Pakistan's Shaheen 2 missile
Dr Khan shared nuclear technology with nations like Libya and Iran

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who visited the Iranian enrichment plant of Natanz in February 2003 had realised that the machines used by Iran were of the same design that Dr Khan had worked on when he was a young scientist in Europe and which he had used to build Pakistan's own programme.

At the same time, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya had opened up a secret channel with MI6 to give up his nuclear programme which had been almost entirely provided by Dr Khan and his network.

The US tried to put pressure on President Musharraf to put Dr Khan out of business in September 2003, when CIA director George Tenet confronted him in a New York hotel room with evidence of Dr Khan's activities, but Gen Musharraf still did not act and frustrations grew in Washington.

In the end it took a phone call from then US Secretary of State Colin Powell in late January to seal Dr Khan's fate.

Mr Powell warned Gen Musharraf that President Bush was about to give a speech and publicly name and shame Dr Khan.

As a result, the scientist was brought before President Musharraf and forced to publicly confess.


The CIA have never been allowed to interrogate Dr Khan directly, something they would very much like to do since it is still unclear how much nuclear technology he actually passed on to Iran.

In the case of Libya, Dr Khan provided an actual nuclear weapons design.

Some in Washington believe similar information may have been provided to Iran, proving Iran was after the bomb and not just peaceful nuclear power as Tehran claims, but they have never been able to prove it.

However, all questions for Dr Khan have to be filtered through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and no-one is sure they are getting the real truth.

Allowing the US access to Dr Khan would be very sensitive within Pakistan, where he still has many supporters, as well as potentially embarrassing for Gen Musharraf, who simply wants to move on from the issue.

US officials say, though, that one of the reasons Pakistan will not be offered a civilian nuclear co-operation deal of the type negotiated with India is precisely because of Dr Khan.

The scientist remains under house arrest in Islamabad. He was recently allowed out briefly for surgery for prostate cancer.

Dina Khan ends her statement with a warning.

"The investigation into the nuclear scandal was officially closed months ago, yet my father's situation remains unchanged. Perhaps the hope is to have him rot quietly at home, forgotten by all.

"That will never happen. The truth will come out eventually, it always does."

Pakistan nuclear case 'is closed'
02 May 06 |  South Asia
CIA 'let atomic expert Khan go'
09 Aug 05 |  Europe
The story that refuses to die
10 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Profile: Abdul Qadeer Khan
20 Feb 04 |  South Asia

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