Pakistani nuclear scientist said to affirm Post article's accuracy

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 19, 2009

A leading Pakistani newspaper said Wednesday that the former director of Pakistan's clandestine nuclear program had affirmed a recent account in The Washington Post of the country's nuclear dealings with China, saying the account was accurately based on a letter that Abdul Qadeer Khan said he sent to his wife.

The News, which describes itself as Pakistan's top English-language daily, reported that Khan, in an interview, said that government agents had removed a copy of the letter from his daughter's baggage and that it had been seen by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

In his 2006 memoir, Musharraf wrote that Pakistani intelligence agents had seized a letter from Khan to his daughter that "contained detailed instructions for her to go public" about Pakistan's nuclear secrets through certain British journalists. In its article, The Post said it had obtained Khan's documents and narratives from a former Financial Times journalist, Simon Henderson, who corresponded with Khan.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, in a statement Friday to Agence France-Presse, had called Khan's account in The Post's article that day "baseless."

But local press accounts Monday stated that at a court hearing in Rawalpindi about Khan's long-running detention by the government at his home, government prosecutors accused him of leaking national secrets and asked judges to block any new statements by him to foreign journalists. The hearing was adjourned without a decision.

The Post's article quoted descriptions by Khan and others of how China gave Pakistan enough highly enriched uranium for two atomic bombs, a nuclear bomb design and other nuclear materials in the 1980s. In exchange, according to Khan's account, Pakistan helped China modernize its production of bomb-grade uranium.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company