Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan bought N Korean missile technology: Bhutto

REUTERS , TOKYO

Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto said her nation bought long-range missile technology from North Korea in the 1990s, but there was no exchange of nuclear technology in return, a leading Japanese daily reported yesterday.

Bhutto was also quoted as telling the Asahi Shimbun in an interview, conducted in London where she lives in exile, that people had proposed to the government that Pakistan sell its nuclear technology to other nations.

In February, Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist who is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, said he had leaked nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran but that he had acted independently.

Western diplomats have said, however, that Khan could not have acted alone and that Pakistani scientists might have sold nuclear technology to North Korea, which has been at the center of a nuclear crisis since 2002.

Asked about speculation that Pakistan had exported nuclear technology, Bhutto said it was true that while she was in office there were unspecified people who had proposed this to the government as a way of raising foreign currency, but that she persuaded them not to.

She added that Pakistan did acquire missile technology from North Korea following a visit she made there in December 1993, but that it was bought and no trade of nuclear technology was made for it.

She also denied that Pakistan exported nuclear technology from 1994 to 1995, the Asahi said.

Bhutto served as prime minister from December 1988 to August 1990 and from October 1993 to October 1996.

In February, Bhutto said Mu-sharraf's decision to pardon Khan following his apology had only fuelled suspicion the president was involved in the scandal involving the leak of nuclear secrets.

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