Score one for the
good guys the other team:
Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, confirmed Tuesday for the first time that a Pakistani nuclear scientist had provided North Korea with centrifuge machines that could be used to make fuel for an atomic bomb, a Japanese news agency reported.
In an interview here with the agency, Kyodo News, General Musharraf said the former head of his country’s nuclear program, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, had sent “centrifuges – parts and complete” to North Korea. The Pakistani leader did not divulge the number of centrifuges that arrived in North Korea, saying, “I do not exactly remember the number.”
General Musharraf also said Dr. Khan might have sent North Korea uranium hexafluoride, which can be enriched in centrifuges and then processed into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors or atomic warheads.
The president’s statements are likely to bolster American contentions that North Korea has a covert uranium enrichment program and complicate the six-nation talks over North Korea’s nuclear program that are scheduled to resume next week.
General Musharraf reiterated his long-held position that he and other members of Pakistan’s powerful military had not known that Dr. Khan was shipping nuclear hardware abroad. But American experts on the spread of nuclear weapons said the disclosure raised new questions about the Pakistani military’s possible role in nuclear proliferation.
Dr. Khan publicly confessed in January 2004 to having provided nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, but he gave few details. General Musharraf pardoned him, citing his status as a national hero. Pakistani officials are investigating Dr. Khan, but General Musharraf has barred American or United Nations investigators from directly questioning him.