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'Musharraf's claim on India's N-programme a sick joke'
September 26, 2006 19:30 IST
The country's nuclear establishment has rubbished President Pervez Musharraf's claim that India's uranium enrichment programme could have its roots in A Q Khan's clandestine network and former diplomats describe it as a "sick joke".
Rejecting Musharraf's charge that New Delhi's uranium enrichment technology "could be a copy" of Islamabad's centrifuge design, Chairman of Department of Atomic Energy Anil Kakodkar asserted that the entire nuclear technology has been developed indigenously.
"Our technolgy is based on our indigenous research and development and action consistent with responsible behaviour", he told PTI from Mumbai.
Putting the entire blame of Pakistan's record of nuclear proliferation on disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan, Musharraf, in his book "In the Line of Fire" has alleged that several Indians worked for Khan's network in Dubai and India's uranium enrichment technology could be a copy of Pakistani centrifuge design.
Former Foreign Secretary Shashank felt Musharraf's attempt was more to sully India's reputation. India, he said, has always felt that Pakistan was directly involved with the A Q Khan network.
More than 80 tonnes of equipment being clandestinely exported from that country couldn't have been possible without Pakistani military involvement, he contended.
Speaking in a similar vein, India's former Ambassador to the US Naresh Chandra said Musharraf's remarks in this regard were nothing but a "very desparate attempt" to somehow throw mud on India's nuclear programme because of the "great embarassment Pakistan suffered by the exposure of the A Q Khan" network.
Pakistan having "centrifuge technology is a sick joke. They have stolen it from other countries, basically China. "So, it is laughable that we will follow that route," he said. Brushing aside Musharraf's claim that he had taken the initiative to expose A Q khan's activities, Chandra said on the contrary, Musharraf was confronted with evidence.
There was clearly "a deal between the Pakistani military and A Q Khan. Pointing out that Musharraf has been in charge since 1999, he said Pakistan's strategic assets have always been under Army's control.
"A Q Khan could not have carried out his activities without Army's support". Shasank said India's record on the nuclear issue has been considered exceptional with important members of the IAEA having vouched for it.
"India has maintained the highest standards of export control," he said. By trying to put India and Pakistan on the same footing was an attempt to get away with some "guesswork", he said.
While moving forward in the dialogue process, India must take into account factors like continuing levels of infiltration and peoples' sentiments, he said.