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December 6, 2001
1610 IST

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CIA wants six more Pak nuke scientists probed

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Islamabad has been given a list of six more Pakistani nuclear scientists by the CIA to investigate their suspected links with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, Online news agency reported on Thursday.

The CIA also wants their association with two other retired nuclear scientists, who are currently under detention, probed, the report added.

Quoting highly placed intelligence sources, the news agency said the issue of questioning the retired Pakistan scientists figured in the discussions between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and CIA Director John Tenet, during the latter's visit to Islamabad few days ago.

It said details of Musharraf's response to Tenet's request was not available, adding that the list given by the CIA does not include the names of Dr Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmud, the former director of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and chief engineer Dr Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, who were being interrogated by a joint team of FBI and the ISI.

Without furnishing the list of the six scientists, it said two Pakistan scientists, Dr Suleiman Asad and Dr Muhammad Ali Mukhtar, who are currently in Myanmar assisting the local scientists in 'some kind of research work', could be in the list.

The news agency quoted PAEC as confirming their presence in Myanmar.

The two scientists were directly related to the country's nuclear programme and had been working in Kahuta Research Laboratories for the last few years, the report said.

According to the report, the PAEC spokesman refused to elaborate on the kind of 'research work' they have been doing in Myanmar.

It said the two scientists have prolonged their stay in Myanmar on the government's directive, which virtually does not want them to be probed by the US secret agencies fearing that they might leak some information regarding its nuclear programme to them.

Asked for Pakistan's reaction to the report, Defence spokesman General Rashid Qureshi said that the news report was 'false' and should be ignored.

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