WASHINGTON, Sept 25: Dr A.Q. Khan had advised his daughter, who lives in London, to disclose Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to the British media, claims President Pervez Musharraf in his book In The Line Of Fire.
The president says that when in November 2003 the government started investigations into Dr Khan’s proliferation activities, Pakistani intelligence agencies intercepted two letters written by him.
The first, carried by a courier, advised some of Dr Khan’s friends in Iran not to mention his name under any circumstances to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also advised them to name dead people during investigations, just as he was doing in Pakistan.
“Naively, he also suggested that the Iranians should put the blame for the contamination found in Iran on IAEA inspectors, ‘who could have spread it surreptitiously.’ He recommended that Iran renounce the NPT and finally promised more assistance after this event had passed.”
The second latter, addressed to his daughter, “contained detailed instructions for her to go public on Pakistan’s nuclear secrets through certain British journalists,” the president writes.
The president claims that Dr Khan had been involved in nuclear proliferation since 1987, offering to share the technology with whoever was willing to pay.
“We were once informed that a chartered aircraft going to North Korea for conventional missiles was also going to carry some ‘irregular’ cargo on his behalf. ... We organised a discreet raid and searched the aircraft before its departure but unfortunately found nothing. Later, we were told that A.Q.’s people had been tipped off and the suspected cargo had not been loaded.
“On another occasion, I was informed that A.Q. had requested clearance of a chartered cargo flight (bringing ammunition) from a third country to Islamabad, ‘including refuelling stops both ways at Zahedan in Iran.’ ...I disallowed permission to land in Iran. Some days later, I was informed that the aircraft had never come to Pakistan after all. Evidently, the ammunition was probably a cover for something else.”
The president recalls that although Washington had been raising suspicions about Dr Khan’s activities since the Clinton days, in September 2003 at the UN summit, President Bush “drew me aside and asked me if I could spare some time the next morning for the CIA director, George Tenet.
“It is extremely seriously and very important from your point of view,” he said. I agreed.
“Tenet arrived at my hotel (Roosevelt in New York) suite the next morning … drew out some papers and placed them before me. I immediately recognised them as detailed drawings of Pakistan’s P-1 centrifuges ... with part numbers, dates, signatures, etc.
“I did not know what to say. I have seldom found myself at a loss for words, but this time I was. ...I told Tenet that I would like to take the papers and start an investigation. He obliged.”
The president took the papers to Dr Khan and placed them before him. “He broke down and admitted that he felt extremely guilty. He asked me for an official pardon. I told him that his apology should be to the people of Pakistan and he should seek his pardon from them directly.”
In the book, Gen Musharraf describes Dr Khan as a man who had ‘a great talent for self-promotion and publicity and led the public to believe that he was building the bomb almost single-handedly.
“He was such a self-centred and abrasive man that he could not be a team player. He did not want anyone to excel beyond him or steal the limelight on any occasion or on any subject related to our strategic programme.
“He had a huge ego, and he knew the art of playing to the gallery and manipulating the media. All this made him a difficult person to deal with.”