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Musharraf Rejects Allegations Pakistan Helped N. Korea's Nuclear Program - 2002-10-18

Pakistani government is denying reports that it has supplied critical equipment for North Korea's clandestine nuclear weapons program.

U.S. intelligence officials are quoted in The New York Times as saying they have concluded that Pakistan is what the newspaper calls a "major supplier" of "critical equipment" for North Korea's newly revealed nuclear weapons program.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, President Pervez Musharraf rejected the allegation, saying there is no such cooperation between Pakistan and North Korea.

"This is absolutely baseless," he said. "There is no such thing as collaboration with North Korea in the nuclear arena. Pakistan has several times said, and I have personally said several times, that Pakistan will never proliferate its nuclear technology. And we stand by this commitment."

President Musharraf spoke at a joint news conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The Malaysian leader was in Islamabad on a one-day trip. His discussions with Pakistani leaders focused on strengthening economic ties between the two countries.

According to senior U.S. officials, the equipment Pakistan exported to North Korea may have included gas centrifuges used in creating weapons-grade uranium. The New York Times quotes officials as saying the shipment took place as part of a barter deal between the two countries in the late 1990s. In return, American officials are quoted as saying North Korea provided Pakistan with medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Russia and China are also said to have supplied equipment for the North Korean secret nuclear weapons program. Officials in Moscow have denied those claims.