WASHINGTON, Oct 11: The US has avoided linking North Korea’s nuclear test to the Khan network, pointing out that Dr A. Q. Khan has been ‘out of business’ since the discovery two years ago of a gang of nuclear proliferators he allegedly ran.

Asked at a regular briefing on Tuesday whether Washington has been interrogating Dr Khan in the wake of the North Korean blast, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: “I don’t know who’s talked to him lately. But he’s out of business, and that’s a good thing for non-proliferation efforts around the world.”

Mr McCormack, however, explained that Pakistan was not being blamed for nuclear proliferation in countries that were once described as the “axis of evil” because Islamabad has co-operated with the US war against terrorism. “In terms of Pakistan, you have a country that has made the strategic decision to ally itself with those who are promoting freedom and democracy around the world,” the spokesman said.

Mr McCormack disagreed with a reporter who suggested that by keeping close friendly ties with two self-declared nuclear states –- India and Pakistan –- the US was sending a signal to the North Koreans that they too can get away with their test.

The spokesman said that Washington views the nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan differently from North Korea’s because those two nations share the values of the United States.

“First of all, looking at the nature of each of those three governments in those countries — North Korea, India and Pakistan — I think they are all quite different. In terms of India you have the world’s largest multiethnic democracy.”

Mr McCormack acknowledged that Pakistan was not yet a democracy like India but was making the changes needed to bring freedom and democracy to its people.

“Now, granted, it is a country that is transitioning to its own form of democracy,” he said. “(But Pakistanis are) making the changes necessary in terms of their domestic laws and their politics and even within their society that fundamentally realise Pakistan with the great, the broad sweep of the rest of the world, and that is towards greater freedom and democracy.”

In the North Korea regime, he said, “you have a regime that is actually going in the other direction. So it gets to the nature of these particular governments.”

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