Pakistan says it has dismantled the secretive nuclear proliferation network once headed by the founder of the country's own nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri says the underground proliferation network could not still be operating, because the government has taken appropriate action to dismantle it, and has dealt sternly with the former chief of the country's nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, who ran it.
However, the minister says other countries did not punish their nationals who were members of the Khan network. Mr. Kasuri was speaking at a joint news conference in Islamabad with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso.
"Many scientists and people from other nationalities were involved in the underground network. Pakistan has taken the strongest action, and has put the network out of business," he said. "Dr. A Q Khan has been treated very harshly. So, Dr. A Q Khan has fallen from the high pedestal that he had. Pakistan is very sorry, and is very upset, and has taken all appropriate action in dismantling the underground network."
Pakistani scientist Khan was considered a national hero for his key role in developing the country's nuclear weapons program. But nearly two years ago, he publicly confessed to leaking sensitive nuclear technology to countries like Libya, North Korea and Iran.
The Pakistani government pardoned the scientist, citing his contribution to enhancing the national security, but he has been living under house arrest, amid tight security in Islamabad, and only his family members are allowed to meet with him.
Japanese Foreign Minister Aso told reporters that Pakistan and Japan are exchanging information on the underground nuclear proliferation network to help international efforts aimed at completely dismantling it.
During the Japanese foreign minister's trip, Pakistan and Japan agreed to set up a working group for discussion on disarmament, nonproliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as nuclear safety.
Under another agreement signed Thursday, Japan will provide an emergency earthquake loan of $100 million. The money will be used to help victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan nearly three months ago, killing more than 83,000 people.