Pak helped N Korea build nukes as early as 1990

Last Updated: Monday, December 28, 2009 - 18:33

Washington: North Korea, with the help of
Pakistan, may have opened an alternative way to clandestinely
build nuclear weapons as early as 1990s by constructing a
plant to manufacture a gas needed for uranium enrichment.

Pyongyang may have been enriching uranium on a small
scale by 2002, with maybe 3,000 or even more centrifuges and
Pakistani supplied vital machinery, drawings and technical
advice, The Washington Post has reported citing an account by
Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan`s atomic bomb
programme.

The paper quoted Khan as saying that during his visit to
North Korea in 1999, he was taken to a mountain tunnel, where
his source had showed him components of three finished nuclear
warheads.
The Post said Khan`s account could not be independently
corroborated. But one US intelligence official and a US
diplomat said his information adds to their suspicions that
North Korea has long pursued the enrichment of uranium in
addition to making plutonium for bombs.

It also may help explain Pyongyang`s assertion in
September that it is in the final stages of such enrichment,
the paper noted.

Khan described his dealings with the country in official
documents and in correspondence with a former British
journalist, Simon Henderson, who said he thinks an accurate
understanding of Pakistan`s nuclear history is relevant for
US policymaking, the report pointed out.

The Post independently verified that the documents were
produced by Khan.

"While they explained the construction (design of the
bombs), they quietly showed me the six boxes containing split
cores for the warheads," Khan said.

The paper said that the disgraced Pakistani nuclear
scientist visit occurred seven years ago and if correct,
suggests that North Korea`s nuclear programme is more advanced
than previously known and the country may have more
sophisticated weapons.

The paper said the Ghauri missile was Pakistan`s version
of the Nodong missile that Islamabad brought from Pyongyong.

The post also said that North Korea in turn taught
Pakistan how to make Krytrons - extremely fast electric
switches that are used in nuclear detonations.

Contradicting official Pakistani statements that the
government had no involvement in such sensitive transfers,
Khan was quoted by a paper as saying that his assistance was
approved by top political and army officials including then Lt
Gen Khalid Kidwai, who currently oversees Pakistan`s atomic
arsenal.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 28, 2009 - 18:33

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