A claim by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of the country’s nuclear programme, has been denied by Pakistan’s military on Saturday. Mr Khan said last week that in 2000, the army, under Pervez Musharraf, the current president, supervised a shipment of centrifuges to North Korea.
Mr Khan claimed the army had “complete knowledge” of the shipment. Pakistan has always denied that its army or government knew about Mr Khan’s nuclear proliferation activities.
In 2004, during his confession, Mr Khan said he was solely responsible for spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. His recent comments contradict that.
On Saturday, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, director general of the strategic planning division (SPD) that oversees Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, said that Mr Khan’a aim was to falsely implicate Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the SPD and the army in nuclear proliferation.
“I would like to categorically say it’s wrong, false”, he said.
Reported earlier on Friday by Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, these allegations are Mr Khan’s most controversial yet. As the Pakistani army and president Musharraf are a key ally in the US-led war on terror, the allegations could prove deeply embarrassing for them.
Pervez Musharraf pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan in 2004, after his televised confession, though he has been kept under virtual house arrest at his villa in Islamabad.
But after February elections, when a new civilian government took power, eclipsing Mr Musharraf, the retired scientist has increasingly spoken out in the media.