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Iranian Official Denies Pakistani Involvement in Nuclear Development - 2004-01-14

A top Iranian official says Pakistani scientists did not help his country's nuclear program. The comments contradict news media suspicions of a Pakistani-Iranian nuclear connection.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh says Tehran's nuclear program was developed entirely by its own scientists.

However, speaking to reporters in Pakistan Wednesday, Mr. Aminzadeh admitted that some foreign experts did help guide Iran in purchasing necessary equipment for its program.

He says Iran did pass on this information to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr. Aminzadeh adds that Iranian officials told the U.N. agency three Europeans and two South Asians assisted the country in choosing which items to purchase on the open market.

But he would not identify the specific nationalities of any of these foreign experts. Western media reported in December that Pakistani scientists are believed to have provided know-how to the Iranians.

Over the past two months, Pakistan has been questioning some of the country's top nuclear scientists to see whether any of them were involved in the Iranian program.

Islamabad says it began the probe into its scientific community based on information provided by Iran and the U.N.

But Pakistan, which is a declared nuclear power, has repeatedly denied that any official government help was extended to help Iran with its nuclear program.