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Pakistani Scientist Allegedly Made Millions From Sale of Nuclear Materials - 2004-02-20


Malaysian police say Pakistan's top nuclear scientist made $3 million from one black market sale of nuclear weapons material. A police report, based on Malaysia's questioning of a suspected middleman in the transaction, also says that illegal deals by Abdul Qadeer Khan sent nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

A police report in Malaysia says Sri Lankan businessman Buhary Syed Abu Tahir helped Abdul Qadeer Khan sell nuclear weapons material to Iran during the 1990's.

According to the report, released Friday, Mr. Tahir told police that Dr. Khan sent Pakistani centrifuges used in making weapons-grade material to Iran via Dubai, the purported center of Dr. Khan's black market operations.

In return, the report says, Iranian couriers gave Dr. Khan a suitcase with $3 million in cash.

The police report adds that Mr. Tahir also knew of a deal in which Dr. Khan sold enriched uranium to Libya several years later.

Dr. Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb program, confessed on February 4 to having sold nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. He was pardoned the following day by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Some Pakistani politicians, however, say Dr. Khan could not have transferred such material and information without the knowledge of the military.

Syed Munawar Hasan is the secretary-general of Pakistan's top religious party, the Jamaat-e Islami.

"Without the involvement of [the] army, it is not possible that any scientist on his own, at an individual level, can give any support to any nuclear program in any country," he said.

But the government has repeatedly denied any involvement in Dr. Khan's nuclear black market activities.

A senior Pakistani official told VOA on Friday that authorities had long suspected Dr. Khan of nuclear proliferation, and had placed him under surveillance years ago, forcing him to move his black market operations to Dubai.

The official also denied the Malaysian police report's allegation that a Pakistani aircraft was used in the purported shipment of uranium to Libya.

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