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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Pakistan rejects N Korea nuclear link
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf dismissed the claims as "baseless"

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has described as baseless reports that Pakistan has supplied equipment for North Korea's newly-revealed nuclear programme.

North Korean nuclear facility
The US revealed evidence of North Korea's nuclear programme
General Musharraf said Pakistan stood by its commitment not to proliferate its nuclear technology.

But a report in the New York Times newspaper quoted US officials as saying there had been a deal between the two countries.

Ever since Pakistan offered its full support to the US after the attacks on New York and Washington, it has been seen as an important ally in the war on terror.

The report in the New York Times could sour relations.

'Commercial relationship'

US intelligence officials were quoted as saying that Pakistan had been a major supplier of critical equipment for North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Pakistani soldier
The US and Pakistan are currently carrying out joint military exercises

And the report said that although trade started before General Musharraf took over in a bloodless coup, it appeared the commercial relationship continued even after he seized power and, possibly, even after the 11 September attacks.

General Musharraf said the report was baseless and there was no collaboration with North Korea or any other country in the nuclear arena.

"There is no such thing as collaborating with North Korea in the nuclear arena," he said.

"Pakistan will never proliferate its nuclear technology and we stand by this commitment... there is no question of proliferating to any country in the world."

Pressure

Pakistan is a key frontline state for America.

It has provided bases for operations in Afghanistan and is also helping to hunt down al-Qaeda fighters inside Pakistan.

US sanctions imposed on Pakistan after it carried out nuclear tests in 1998 have been lifted and the two countries are currently carrying out joint military exercises.

The renewed ties are already threatened by the success of anti-US religious parties in last week's general election.

They could hold the balance of power in the new parliament.

And this latest report could now put even more pressure on the relationship.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Forrest
"These accusations... brought a furious reaction from President Musharraf"
Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

18 Oct 02 | South Asia
18 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 May 02 | Americas
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