News / Asia

Pakistani Scientist Says N. Korea Paid for Nuclear Technology

Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, lionised by many in Pakistan for being founder of Pakistani nuclear program admitted in a televised address of selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea but government pardoned him, (file photo M
Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, lionised by many in Pakistan for being founder of Pakistani nuclear program admitted in a televised address of selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea but government pardoned him, (file photo M

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear program says North Korea paid top Pakistani military officers more than $3 million in exchange for nuclear technology in the 1990s.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Abdul Qadeer Khan released documents detailing the secret transfer, including a North Korean official's 1998 letter to him, which was written in English.  The letter says that more than $3.5 million and some jewelry had been paid to two Pakistani military officers in exchange for the delivery of missile components.

The U.S. newspaper said western intelligence officials think the letter is authentic, and that it contains details of sensitive matters known to only a "handful of people" in Pakistan, North Korea and the United States.  The Washington Post also quoted a senior U.S. official as saying the information is consistent with prior knowledge "of the same events."

The Pakistani military officials named in the report have denied the allegations, saying Khan wanted to "shift the blame to others."  

A Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman on Thursday also denied the report as "totally baseless."

The North Korean government did not respond to the Post's requests for comment.

Khan has admitted to selling nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea.  He spent five years under house arrest in Pakistan before being released in 2009.

Khan gave the documents to former British journalist, Simon Henderson, an expert on the Pakistani weapons program with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy -- who then provided them to The Washington Post.  

Henderson told the Associated Press Thursday that Khan gave him the documents in order to dispel the perception that Khan was a "rogue operator."

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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