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U.S. Hopes to Find Others Responsible for Leaking
Nuclear Secrets

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
February 6, 2004

The State Department said that uncovering others in Pakistan who were responsible for leaking nuclear technology is more important than punishing the country's top nuclear scientist for his role in the scandal.

Pakistan's president has pardoned the scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had admitted his participation in providing sensitive technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

A department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, compared the pardon to a plea bargain, saying it was intended to encourage Khan to expose other-still-at-large members of the worldwide nuclear black market.

The United States expressed no reservations about President Musharraf's decision, saying it was an internal matter.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher credited Pakistani authorities with pursuing the investigation seriously ever since Iranian officials told U.N. nuclear experts more than two months ago about the leakage of secrets.

"We think that Pakistan is taking serious efforts to end the activities of a dangerous network," he said. "It's up to the government of Pakistan to take the necessary measures to ensure that this kind of proliferation will not happen again."

CIA Director George Tenet said that Khan's network "was shaving years off the nuclear weapons development timelines of several states, including Libya" and "offering its wares to countries like North Korea and Iran."

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, gave Pakistan information that Pakistani technology had been found in Iran and Libya.

In the case of North Korea, however, Khan is believed to have begun providing sensitive technology only well after the country had developed the capability to produce plutonium-based nuclear bombs.