N-data leak allegation against BB rejected

02 Jun 2008

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WASHINGTON, June 1: The Pakistan embassy on Sunday took strong exception to a claim — revealed in a book and reported by The Washington Post — that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto personally smuggled nuclear data to North Korea in 1993.

“It is absurd and highly ridiculous,” said an embassy spokesman Nadeem Kiani while talking to Dawn. “Why would a prime minister do such a thing and then disclose it to an Indian journalist knowing that Indian journalists are not known for their love for Pakistan?”

According to the book, “Goodbye, Shahzadi,” Ms Bhutto, on a state visit to North Korea in 1993, smuggled critical data on uranium enrichment to help facilitate a missile deal with Pyongyang. The information could have been used to make a nuclear weapon, the report suggested.

The assertion is based on conversations that the author, Shyam Bhatia, had with Ms Bhutto in 2003, in which she said she would tell him a secret “so significant that I had to promise never to reveal it, at least not during her lifetime.”

“The book is written in a sensational style, the sourcing is weak,” said Mr Kiani. “Mr Bhatia has in the past also published speculative stories relating to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the source of which has not always been authentic.” Mr Kiani noted that it was not appropriate to soil the memory of Pakistan’s “icon of democracy”.