US opposed A.Q. Khan release in private

Abdul-Qadeer-KhanWashington, Dec 1 : The Bush administration stayed silent when rumours floated in early 2008 that Pakistan was about to release from house arrest disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Islamabad's nuclear bomb, but did oppose the move in private.

Struggling to get Pakistan's help in the war against Al Qaeda, Washington could not risk reminding the world of a case Pakistani officials kept saying was closed, the New York Times said referring to Washington's silence over the move to release "the man who created the world's largest black market in nuclear technology".

The then assistant secretary of state for South Asia Richard A. Boucher wrote on April 10, 2008, that the embassy in Islamabad should "express Washington's strong opposition to the release of Dr. Khan and urge the Government of Pakistan to continue holding him under house arrest."

Releasing him, he wrote, would "undermine" what Pakistan had done to fight proliferation, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

"The damage done to international security by Dr. Khan and his associates is not a closed book," he wrote, noting that the United States and others were still dealing with the Khan network's sale of technology to Iran and North Korea "and possible other states".

The world, he said, was dealing "with the reality that the uranium enrichment technology and nuclear weapons designs that were sold to Libya are now available to other states and non-state actors."

Khan was released 10 months later. (IANS)