Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, says he has agreed to let the United Nations inspect his country's centrifuges, in connection with a probe into Iran's controversial nuclear program.
President Musharraf's statement comes days after reports that Pakistan would send centrifuges used to enrich uranium to U.N. inspectors studying Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. The Pakistan government initially denied the reports.
In an interview with Pakistan's private Aaj Television network, Mr. Musharraf says details about sending the centrifuges to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency are still being discussed.
The president says the IAEA asked Pakistan to send centrifuges, so that the agency can compare them with matching parts from Iran. He says Pakistan has agreed to the request.
The president says, he hopes allowing U.N. access to the Pakistani centrifuges will end the pressure on his country over the issue once and for all.
The International Atomic Energy Agency suspects Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons with outside help. Its inspectors there have found evidence of enriched uranium, which could be used to make atomic bombs.
Tehran says its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. Iranian officials say the traces of weapons-grade uranium came from imported items, and not from any supplies within the country.
Pakistan has been under international scrutiny since the founder of its own nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted last year to illegally selling nuclear technology to foreign nations, including Iran.
In the interview with Aaj Television, President Musharraf says that, while A.Q. Khan was a key figure in the international nuclear black market, Pakistan should not be singled out.
"Let's be clear on what was the network. Yes, indeed, A.Q. Khan was a main figure in the [nuclear black market] brain, unfortunately," he said.
But President Musharraf adds that many people of different nationalities were involved in the illicit sale of nuclear weapons technology.
Since Mr. Khan's confession, the scientist has been under house arrest and, says President Musharraf, has been completely cut off from any opportunity to continue his proliferation activities.
... Payvand News - 3/26/05 ... --