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|July 1, 1998||
Alleged scientist says he'll spill the beans on Pak N-programme
Iftikhar Chaudhry Khan, one of the five Pakistani nuclear scientists who allegedly defected to the West, said in an interview yesterday that he would give detailed information to US officials about Pakistan's nuclear programme, including details of Chinese help in building a reactor that produces weapons grade plutonium.
Michael Wildes, Khan's lawyer, said Khan, who arrived in New York on May 22, has met with officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The nuclear scientist fled to the US, allegedly worried Pakistan was considering a first nuclear strike against India.
If confirmed, Khan's claim suggests India and Pakistan were much closer to a nuclear confrontation last month than ever their tit-for-tat weapons tests showed.
Khan, who left Pakistan before the tests, said he and four other scientists became alarmed after attending a top-secret meeting in April on Pakistan's nuclear strategy in light of the Bharatiya Janata Party's ascent to power in India in March.
The five signed a protest letter out of concern that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons first, Khan said.
Pakistan has denied that any of its nuclear scientists had defected and called the accusation ''of planning to launch a pre-emptive strike against India particularly malicious.''
Khan is the only purported defector who has surfaced in the US. Four others are believed to be in England.
He has allegedly produced a copy of a photo identity card naming him as an assistant research officer with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in Khushab, Pakistan.
Khan said a 50-megawatt reactor in Khushab has produced enough plutonium to make a weapon, but ''Pakistan still needs some assistance from other countries.'' Pakistan used uranium in the May 28 and 30 tests.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947. Khan feared the ''next war will be an atomic one. The danger has increased."
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