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|July 7, 1998||
Experts conclude Pak renegade scientist is a fraud
A week after a Pakistani made incendiary allegations of having witnessed top government officials discussing a pre-emptive nuclear attack on India, US government officials and academic experts have concluded he is a fraud, says the Washington Post.
The daily quoted Frank Von Hippel, chairman of the research arm of the Anti-nuclear Weapon Federation of American Scientists, as having said that he and several Princeton University associates reached their conclusion after interviewing Iftikhar Khan Chaudhary for an hour by telephone yesterday about his supposed graduate education, work for the Pakistani nuclear agency and his understanding of nuclear physics.
''Everything was wrong,'' said Von Hippel, who is also a professor of public and international affairs at Princeton. ''He doesn't know the most elementary facts about what a nuclear reactor is. Our guess is he doesn't have more than a high school education.''
A senior Clinton administration official who has reviewed government agencies' reports about Khan's claims also said that Chaudhary is ''an absolute fraud.''
US intelligence has concluded that the nuclear facility where Khan said he worked had no centrifuges for refining weapons-grade uranium, as Khan had claimed.
Instead, Pakistan's centrifuges are housed in facilities run by a competing nuclear agency.
Khan has been interviewed twice by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to his claims, but the bureau has not commented publicly on the case.
Asked yesterday about the scepticism regarding his account, Khan said his mind had been a blur since May, when he said his wife was detained by Pakistan security agents and he left the country.
''I've been very tense,'' Khan said from his lawyer's office in Manhattan. ''I don't remember all the basic definitions of physics that they asked me about, I learned these things over four years ago.''
The interview with the experts from Princeton was conducted mostly in Khan's native Urdu by A H Nayyar, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam university in Islamabad, who is visiting Princeton for the summer, and by Zia Mian, a Pakistani physicist and research associate at Princeton. Both have publicly criticised Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.
Khan had told reporters that he had been present at a meeting at which top Pakistani officials discussed a pre-emptive nuclear strike on New Delhi. He said he protested the plans of his superiors, and fled the country pursued by Pakistani security agents. He added that he would share details about his nuclear work with US intelligence agencies in exchange for political asylum.
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