- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2006

KARACHI, Pakistan — Washington has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to allow its disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to be questioned by U.N. inspectors after fresh traces of enriched uranium were found on equipment used at an Iranian military site.

Mr. Khan, who is under house arrest, is believed to hold vital information about Iran’s controversial atomic program, having sold nuclear machinery, plans and technology to the Islamic regime.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is resisting access by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials — possibly because Mr. Khan, 71, who is revered by Pakistanis as “the father of the Islamic bomb,” could reveal embarrassing details about the role of senior military and government figures in his renegade nuclear network.

Information from Mr. Khan could add crucial insights to the recent discovery, by IAEA inspectors, of enrichment contamination on machinery previously used at Iran’s Lavizan-Shian military complex.

The find has dealt a blow to Iran’s claims that its sole nuclear goal is the generation of power, and not to make atomic bombs as Western intelligence agencies claim.

The Lavizan-Shian facility was razed in 2004, on the orders of the Tehran government, before IAEA staff could inspect it. The IAEA believes Mr. Khan could provide valuable information about the work that took place there.

The renewed pressure for access to Mr. Khan comes as Iran faces intense U.N. scrutiny over its nuclear operations.

In an e-mail to member states Thursday, the IAEA said Iran had started a fresh round of uranium enrichment, even as world powers were offering it trade and technological incentives to halt the work.

To the dismay of U.S. politicians, Pakistan has declared the case against Mr. Khan as “closed,” despite few signs of any meaningful investigation.

All 12 associates of Mr. Khan, arrested on suspicion of involvement in the nuclear proliferation racket, have been released.

“They want to squeeze Dr. Khan to use his statements as evidence for the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Support from Beijing and Moscow would only be possible if the U.S. is able to provide ample evidence, and Dr. Khan’s words could be instrumental,” said Gen. Hameed Gul, the former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

• Philip Sherwell in Washington contributed to this report.


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