Pakistan revelation causes uproar

Pakistan's political opposition has walked out of parliament over government statements that nuclear pioneer Abdul Qadeer Khan provided Iran with centrifuges, causing a storm of controversy.

    The political opposition stormed out of parliament

    Washington thinks the technology has enabled Iran to enrich uranium to a level required for making nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's insistence that its nuclear programme is for peaceful means only.
    Opposition lawmakers were angered over the parliament chairman's refusal to hold a debate on the statements made on Thursday by Information Minister Sheikh Rashid, which they said were meant to curry favour with Washington.
    Strong accusations

    "Once again Pakistani leadership is playing in the hand of the United States to serve its sinister motives against Iran," said opposition lawmaker Liaquat Baloch, a leader with the Islamic party alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.
    "This is part of a conspiracy to defame national heroes and our scientists."
    Baloch demanded the government stop making "reckless" statements and tell lawmakers when the centrifuges were handed over and who was in control of the military and the government in Pakistan at that time.
    Rashid said on Thursday that Khan, who fell from grace after he publicly confessed early last year that he passed nuclear secrets to other countries, had passed the centrifuges along to Iran through the black market. He insisted the government was in no way involved.

    Nuclear revelations

    "This is part of a conspiracy to defame national heroes and our scientists"

    Liaquat Baloch, opposition politician

    Khan admitted to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya after a government investigation into nuclear proliferation.
    The investigation was launched in November 2003 after the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, informed Pakistan about the leak.
    IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said earlier that the agency was "well aware that designs and components were provided by the AQ Khan network to Iran". She declined to comment further.
    Khan was later pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf, but he has been living under virtual house arrest in Islamabad. 
    Investigation continues

    As suspected weapons programmes around the world come under scrutiny, Pakistan has said its nuclear proliferation inquiry has not been closed and it would investigate any new information. 

    Iran is engaged in talks with Britain, France and Germany over demands that Tehran give up uranium enrichment.
    EU negotiators want Iran to abandon enrichment as an objective guarantee that it is not developing nuclear weapons and are offering in return trade, security and technology rewards - an offer Iran so far has refused.




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