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We knew of A Q Khan's indiscretion, admits Powell

February 10, 2004 09:22 IST

Secretary of State Colin Powell has confirmed the United States was aware about the nuclear proliferation activities of top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan for 'quite some time'.

In an interview, he expressed happiness over President Gen Pervez Musharraf 'relieving him (Khan) of his responsibilities, to get all the information he can from him about his activities'.

"And, he (Musharraf) has also granted him (Khan) amnesty. (Because) He is considered something of a national hero in Pakistan. But he will no longer be in the business of proliferating this kind of technology," added Powell.

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Powell also said that Musharraf has assured him that the pardon granted to Khan was 'conditional' and that he shared the US goal of pulling up Khan's proliferation network by its roots.

About his conversation with Musharraf, Powell said, "We had a very good conversation. The Pakistani Government has done quite a bit now to roll up the network."

"I said to President Musharraf that we wanted to learn as much as we could about what Mr Khan and the network was up to, and it has to be pulled up by its roots and examined to make sure that we have left nothing behind. He assured me that that was his objective as well, and that he would share with us all of the information that they came up with," he said.

"We also talked about the issue of amnesty for Dr Khan, and President Musharraf reminded me that it was a conditional amnesty. And that is the way they are dealing with the matter," Powell said.

"And it is a matter for the Pakistani government to handle and to make their own decisions with respect to how to roll up the network and what the appropriate action might be with respect to Dr Khan," he said.

Powell said he has no current plans to travel to Pakistan. "I am sure I will before the spring and summer are out," he added.

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