Pakistani generals ‘helped sell nuclear secrets’

The Guardian reports:

The story of the world’s worst case of nuclear smuggling took a new twist on Thursday when documents surfaced appearing to implicate two former Pakistani generals in the sale of uranium enrichment technology to North Korea in return for millions of dollars in cash and jewels handed over in a canvas bag and cardboard boxes of fruit.

The source of the documents is AQ Khan, who confessed in 2004 to selling parts and instructions for the use of high-speed centrifuges in enriching uranium to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Extracts were published by the Washington Post, including a letter in English purportedly from a senior North Korean official to Khan in 1998 detailing payment of $3m to Pakistan’s former army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, and another half-million to Lieutenant General Zulfiqar Khan, who was involved in Pakistan’s nuclear bomb tests.

Both generals denied the allegations. “What can I say. [These are] bits of old info packaged together. [There is] not an iota of truth in the allegations against me. [There is] no reason on earth for anyone to pay me for something I could not deliver,” Karamat wrote in an email to the Guardian. Lt Gen Khan told the Washington Post that the documents were “a fabrication”.

The issue is seen as critically important by western governments. Seven years after Khan, the godfather of the Pakistani nuclear programme, made his public confession on Pakistani television, there is still uncertainty over the extent to which he was a rogue operator or just a salesman acting on behalf of the Pakistani state and its army. Western officials are also unsure whether the covert nuclear sales are continuing.

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