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Pakistan to Tighten Controls on Nuclear/Biological Technology Exports - 2004-09-14

Pakistan's parliament has passed legislation on Tuesday tightening controls on the export of weapons-making nuclear and biological technology, as well as missile delivery systems.

The Pakistan parliament's lower house, the National Assembly, approved the law Tuesday, saying it will further enhance Pakistan's efforts to curb proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

By adopting this bill, it says, Pakistan will fulfil its international obligation and strengthen its credentials as a responsible nuclear weapons state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan tells VOA the bill will consolidate all existing rules and regulations already in effect.

"The significance of the bill is that it would be adopted by the parliament," he said. "The bill provides a consolidated and a comprehensive legislation, covering all aspects of the export of materials and technologies related to nuclear and biological weapons and their means of delivery? And lays down penalties for violators."

The new law calls for a prison sentence of up to 14 years or a fine of up to $85,000 or both for any anyone spreading nuclear technology or hardware.

The approval of the bill by Pakistan's Senate is a formality, because the ruling party enjoys a majority in the upper house of parliament.

Pakistan has been under pressure from the United States and other Western nations to strengthen the safeguards around its nuclear weapons program.

The Pakistani government has admitted that the founder of its nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has smuggled nuclear secrets to countries such as North Korea, Libya and Iran.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned Mr. Khan, after he confessed his crime and made a televised apology for his role in the proliferation scandal last February.

The top Pakistani scientist is closely guarded at his house in Islamabad, although authorities deny he is under house arrest.