'N. Koreans visited Pakistan'

02 Jan 2004


TOKYO, Jan 1: North Korea, involved in a crisis over its nuclear weapons programme, sent three engineers to Pakistan in 1999 to study uranium enrichment technology, a leading Japanese newspaper claimed on Thursday.

Quoting South Korean intelligence sources, the Mainichi Shimbun said the three went to a nuclear institute in Pakistan headed at that time by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme.

It added that the purpose of their visit was to study how to prevent radioactive damage in the process of uranium enrichment. No further details were given, but the newspaper noted that North Korea and Pakistan have denied such links in the past.

The UN's nuclear watchdog has been investigating a possible Pakistan-Iran nuclear link, and diplomats and arms experts have told Reuters that suspicions are growing that Pakistani individuals may also have helped North Korea get enrichment know-how and hardware. -Reuters