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Pakistan Denies Authorizing Transfer of Nuclear Technology to Iran - 2003-12-23

Pakistan says initial investigations show that some of its nuclear scientists may have been motivated by "personal ambition and greed" to share sensitive nuclear technology with Iran. But officials insist the Pakistan government never authorized the transfer of such information.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan says the Pakistani government is questioning some of its nuclear scientists to determine whether they were involved in transferring sensitive technology to Iran.

He told a news conference that the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, is among those scientists being questioned. "There are indications that certain individuals might have been motivated by personal ambition or greed," said the foreign ministry's Mr. Khan. "But let me also add that we have not made a final determination."

The spokesman says the investigation began five or six-weeks ago, prompted by information from the government of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

U.S. media reports have suggested that evidence gathered by American and international officials indicates Pakistan was a source of uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea, and other countries.

The spokesman said that a "very small number" of scientists is thought to be involved, and that everybody, including the highly-respected Abdul Qadeer Khan, will be given equal treatment.

"We want to get to the bottom of the matter," stressed the spokesman. "If there are any individuals who are found involved in transfers of any sort, action would be taken against them. Nobody is above the law."

The spokesman reiterated that the government has never been involved in nuclear proliferation, asserting that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and has a reliable nuclear command-and-control system in place. "The government of Pakistan has not authorized or initiated any transfers of sensitive nuclear technology or information to other countries. This is out of the question," he said"

On Monday, the United States welcomed the Pakistani investigation, saying it accepted Islamabad's assurances that Pakistan is no longer involved in nuclear proliferation.

The Pakistani government has come under strong criticism at home from opposition political parties, which argue the international community led by the United States is forcing Pakistan to roll back its nuclear program.