- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

KARACHI, Pakistan — The scientist behind a worldwide black market in nuclear technology is involved in high-stakes brinksmanship over his future, refusing to hand over reportedly incriminating documents demanded by Pakistani authorities.

The documents and a tape-recorded statement, which are said to demonstrate that senior Pakistani army officials — including President Pervez Musharraf — were aware of Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear proliferation activities, are believed to have been smuggled out of the country for safekeeping by the scientist’s daughter Dina.

Pakistani intelligence officials said Mr. Khan first agreed to surrender the documents in return for a blanket pardon but has failed to do so. They believe his daughter is prepared to disclose their contents if legal action is brought against him by the country’s military government.

Mr. Khan, 68, a national hero in Pakistan, remained under house arrest in Islamabad over the weekend, and restrictions on his movement were being tightened.

More than a week after Gen. Musharraf granted the scientist clemency after he confessed to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, he is still in legal limbo. Pakistani officials say he faces 24-hour surveillance for the rest of his life.

The country’s foreign office confirmed that the pardon granted to Mr. Khan was conditional. “It is not a blanket pardon. It relates only to his television confession,” said Massoud Khan, a spokesman.

The pardon was granted on the grounds that Mr. Khan “had cooperated with the investigation begun by the Pakistani government in November last year, and that he will continue to cooperate.”

It would not extend to any activities that may yet be revealed as the investigation into Mr. Khan’s actions continues. The spokesman said that the scientist should accept that the security restrictions would continue “indefinitely.”

He added: “What we have ensured is that he and his network of associates would never again be able to operate. They have effectively been demobilized.”

Intelligence officers, however, said that the scientist remained resistant. “The government has been trying to retrieve the documents since Mr. Khan was offered a presidential pardon last week, but they are yet to receive them, even though he promised,” one official said.

The official said the government had originally decided to negotiate a deal with Mr. Khan only after it discovered that his daughter had left Pakistan with the potentially incriminating material.

The scientist is said to claim that all the chiefs of army staff since 1977, including Gen. Musharraf, knew what he was doing and were aware of his actions.

The discovery derailed plans to put the scientist and a number of his associates on trial over their role.

Last month, three senior government officials, including the head of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, held long meetings with Mr. Khan in which they persuaded him to apologize unconditionally and surrender all the documents in return for a pardon.

“The government’s concern was genuine,” said one intelligence official. “First, because they were unaware of the exact nature and details of these documents, and second, because of Dr. Khan’s knowledge of all the secret nuclear dealings.

“If his daughter reveals this secret information in retaliation, it could create manifold problems both for the country and its nuclear program,” he said.

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