Iran 'given Pakistan centrifuges'

March 10th, 2005  

Topic: Iran 'given Pakistan centrifuges'


Source:BBC News

Pakistan has confirmed that the former head of its nuclear weapons programme, AQ Khan, gave centrifuges for enriching uranium to Iran.

It is the first time Pakistani officials have publicised details of what nuclear materials the disgraced scientist passed on to Iran.

Information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the BBC's Urdu service that "a few" centrifuges were involved.

Iran is under international pressure over its nuclear ambitions.

The Pakistani information minister stated again on Thursday that his government had no knowledge of Dr Khan's activities.

Last month he dismissed reports that the US was probing whether Dr Khan had sold nuclear secrets to Arab nations.

European countries and the UN recently joined the US in criticising Iran for allegedly not keeping a pledge to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

UN atomic energy agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said this month that the "ball is very much in Iran's court to come clean".

The US accuses Iran of cynically pursuing nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its programme is peaceful.

Nation shocked

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

He shocked Pakistan early last year when he went on television and confessed to leaking nuclear secrets.

He said he took full responsibility for proliferating nuclear weapons to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Dr Khan had 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.

He has been held under virtual house since his confession.

Although the government has passed on information about his former activities to the UN's International Atomic Energy Authority, it will not let any foreign officials interview him.