Musharraf denies nuclear scientist's claim of pressured confession

Other News Materials 8 June 2008 01:12 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday blasted the country's disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan for saying that he was forced into confessing that he was the source of nuclear proliferation.

Musharraf, who is facing demands by political parties and lawyers to resign, told a select group of local media that Khan's claim was totally baseless.

Khan's recent remarks lent credence to the widely held view that the blame for proliferation goes to the national army which controls the nuclear programme.

"It is an international and sensitive issue with implications for national interest. All that I would say is that whatever he (Khan) is saying is absolutely untrue, period!" the president said.

It was the first time that Musharraf spoke to the media since general elections in February ended his military-backed government and put him in political hot waters.

Retired General Musharraf said Khan's claim that he was pressured to confess on television in early 2004 that he had passed on nuclear technology to Iran and Libya was wrong and disappointing, and would hurt Pakistan's national interest.

Khan had made the confession after US agencies discovered the stealth but was pardoned by Musharraf for being a national hero for making Pakistan a nuclear weapons state.

He was under house arrest and held incommunicado until the new democratic government eased life for him and he dramatically started giving interviews on telephone in the past few weeks, dpa reported.