Secretary of State Colin Powell says he has been assured by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that the proliferation activities of the country's top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan will be completely uprooted. Mr. Powell also told reporters he has no plans for an early visit to Pakistan to discuss the issue.
The revelations last week that Mr. Khan had passed nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea were of utmost concern to the Bush administration, and there were news reports that Mr. Powell would go to Pakistan in a matter of days to discuss the matter directly with President Musharraf.
But in an impromptu talk with reporters here, Mr. Powell said that while he was sure he would visit Pakistan in the first half of the year, no such travel is imminent.
He said he had a good conversation on the nuclear issue with President Musharraf late last Friday and was assured of his determination to uproot Mr. Khan's proliferation network. "The Pakistan government has done quite a bit now to roll up the network. I said to President Musharraf that we wanted to learn as much as we could about what Mr. Khan and the network was up to, and it has to be pulled up by its roots, and examined to make sure we have left nothing behind. He assured me that was his objective as well, and that he would share with us all of the information that they came up with," he said.
Mr. Khan, acclaimed as the father of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program, was pardoned by President Musharraf last week after a televised confession that he had sold nuclear secrets.
Secretary Powell said the pardon and follow-up action to deal with the proliferation operation were matters for the Pakistani government to decide. But without elaboration, Mr. Powell said he had been told by President Musharraf that the amnesty for Mr. Khan was "conditional."
Other U.S. officials have suggested that while the nuclear scientist would not face prosecution, there may be limits on travel and outside contacts associated with the pardon.