- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

The United States yesterday demanded that Pakistan dismantle its vast network of nuclear technology sales “by its roots” and said it had President Pervez Musharraf’s assurance that the pardon he had granted the operation’s leader was a conditional one.

The Bush administration continued to insist, however, that the investigation into the activities of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist who admitted last week to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, is an internal Pakistani matter.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who spoke with Gen. Musharraf by telephone on the weekend, said the Pakistani government already 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. It has to be pulled up by its roots and examined to make sure we have left nothing behind,” the secretary told reporters at the State Department.

“He assured me that was his objective as well, and he would share with us all the information they came up with,” Mr. Powell said.

In a telephone conversation between the two men in March, first reported by The Washington Times, Mr. Powell raised concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation activities and informed Gen. Musharraf of imminent sanctions on the Khan Research Laboratories.

But Gen. Musharraf and other senior members of his government continued to dismiss accusations of wrongdoing as recently as several weeks ago, even though Pakistani officials say they were confronted with intelligence by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in October.

Mr. Powell yesterday dismissed weekend wire reports citing Pakistani officials that he would visit Islamabad soon.

“I have no plans to travel to Pakistan. I’m sure I will before the spring and summer are out,” he said.

When Gen. Musharraf last week pardoned Mr. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, the president promised that proliferation activities will never occur in the future. But it was not clear until yesterday that the clemency was conditional on ending all nuclear information leaks.

“We also talked about the issue of amnesty for Doctor Khan, and President Musharraf reminded me that it was a conditional amnesty and that’s the way they are dealing with the matter,” Mr. Powell said.

He, however, would not detail how Pakistan was going about the investigation.

After Mr. Powell spoke, the Pakistani government confirmed that the pardon was conditional.

“The pardon is specific to the charges made so far, and about which Doctor A.Q. Khan has made a confessional statement,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said in Islamabad. “But this is not a blanket pardon.”

The Bush administration has been reluctant to criticize Gen. Musharraf’s government over any knowledge it might have had about Mr. Khan’s secret operation or Islamabad’s slow response to it.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that “it’s the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to [complete the investigation] and to share the information with the appropriate international bodies,” such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said during a visit to Berlin yesterday that his government will share “all information” with the IAEA. But he rejected calls that the agency be involved in the investigation, arguing that it was “not an investigative body.”

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