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US accepts Pakistan's decision: Powell - Scientist's pardon 'odd' - UN

US accepts Pakistan's decision: Powell - Scientist's pardon 'odd' - UN

Publication: Dawn
Date: February 7, 2004
URL: http://www.dawn.com/2004/02/07/top5.htm

[Note from Hindu Vivek Kendra:  It is obvious that Powell and Annan have a very opinion of the intelligence of the people of the world.]

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday that Washington accepted Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf's decision to pardon nuclear scientists Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. But Mr Powell added that he would raise the matter in talks with Musharraf in the days to come.

"This is a matter between Mr Khan, who is a Pakistani citizen, and his government. But it is a matter also that I'll be talking to President Musharraf about," he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

"The action he took with respect to pardoning Mr Khan is something that he felt it was appropriate for him to do and he has explained his position thoroughly," Mr Powell said.

"I expect to be talking to President Musharraf over the next several days to make sure that there is a full understanding of what the A.Q. Khan network has done over the years so that there are no remnants of it left, and then there's no possibility of further proliferating activities coming out of that network."

He said the desire to make sure there was no more proliferation was "goal number one with respect to his accountability."

Mr Powell deflected criticism that Washington has failed to condemn Gen Musharraf's decision and called the uncovering of the black market nuclear network a "success."

"The biggest (proliferator) is now gone and so we don't have to worry about proliferation from Mr A. Q. Khan or his network. And this is a success for the international community," Mr Powell said. Mr Powell said he would tell Gen Musharraf to ensure there was no chance of Pakistan selling secrets again.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Khan affair indicated that nuclear proliferation is "alive" and said that Musharraf was faced with a "difficult situation" because of Khan's hero status to many in the country.

"There has been quite a lot of black market activities that we have not been aware of or have not been able to contain," Mr Annan said.

Admitting that it "sounds rather odd" to have pardoned Mr Khan amid efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, Mr Annan said: "Obviously the president of the country has to manage his own national situation."

He added: "What is important is the commitment that they are going to plug the loopholes and deal with everyone involved severely." Taking a line similar to the United States, Mr Annan chose not to criticize President Pervez Musharraf's decision.

He noted the president had faced a tough call because Abdul Qadeer Khan was revered as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb. Further, Gen Musharraf had pledged to stamp out such proliferation from the South Asian country.

"Obviously it is a very difficult situation that he has to deal with - he is dealing with a national hero," Mr Annan told reporters.

He said Gen Musharraf had assured him he would "take whatever measure to ensure this sort of trafficking does not take place and deal very firmly with those involved."

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