Nuclear scientists detained in Pakistan

Two Pakistani nuclear scientists have been detained amid reports they were involved in transferring technology to Iran.

    Pakistan has tested missiles with nuclear warhead capability

    Opposition politicians and Pakistani media said on 

    Thursday that Faruq

    Muhammad, director of Pakistan's key uranium enrichment

    facility Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), and a KRL laboratory

    director, Yasin Chohan, were arrested this month.

    "They have been arrested and are under detention," opposition

    senator Ishaq Dar, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)

    party, said on Thursday.

    "I say this with full responsibility on the basis of credible

    information."

    Urdu-language newspaper Jinnah reported that Caucasian men

    wearing bullet-proof jackets had arrested Faruq at his home in

    Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. It said Chohan was also taken from his

    home.

    Government equivocation

    A government spokesman refused to confirm whether the two men

    were in detention. A foreign ministry statement said nuclear

    scientists routinely underwent "personnel dependability and

    debriefing programmes".

    "The detention of the two nuclear scientists shows Musharraf

    wants to perpetuate his rule by pleasing foreign powers. He has

    crossed all limits to disgrace, humiliate and surrender on national

    interests"

    Ahsan Iqbal,
    PML-N party

    The statement added:

    "The matter referred to falls within the scope of such

    programmes."

    Faruq's daughter refused to discuss her father's whereabouts

    when contacted.

    "No comment," she replied, declining to give her name.

    "The family is fine and there is nothing for us to worry

    about."

    However, the government rejected media reports that the two men

    were connected to alleged transfers of nuclear technology to Iran.

    FBI involvement? 

    "There are reports about many sources from where Iran could have

    obtained nuclear technology, including several Western companies and

    individuals. The focus should be on checking out with those

    sources," the foreign ministry said.

    The PML-N party said it believed the two men were being held by

    US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents.

    "According to our information, the FBI is holding Director

    General Dr Faruq and Laboratory Director Yasin Chohan with the

    assistance of Pakistani agencies," said a party statement,

    condemning the arrests.

    At a press conference late on Thursday the PML-N accused President

    Pervez Musharraf of allowing foreigners to arrest Pakistan's most

    prized government employees

    .

    "The detention of the two nuclear scientists shows Musharraf

    wants to perpetuate his rule by pleasing foreign powers. He has

    crossed all limits to disgrace, humiliate and surrender on national

    interests," PML-N chief coordinator Ahsan Iqbal said.

    Nuclear programme

    Musharraf has been accused of
    being too close to the US 

    "This kind of action will only support the cause of those

    elements who think the American war against terrorism is in fact a

    war against Muslims."

    The PML-N aslo raised concerns that the architect of Pakistan's

    nuclear programme, Abd al-Qadir Khan, may also come under future

    arrest.

    Khan, who founded KRL, has been named in international media

    reports which claim that

    Pakistan aided both Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programmes.

    KRL was

    sanctioned by the United States in March for allegedly helping an

    unnamed foreign country or entity to develop weapons of mass

    destruction.

    Islamabad, which went public as a nuclear power in May 1998 when

    it conducted underground nuclear tests, consistently denies reports

    of exporting nuclear know-how.

    SOURCE: AFP


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