Thursday, July 7, 2011

North Korea paid Pakistan for nuclear weapons tech

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program claims that in the late 1990s North Korean officials paid kickbacks to senior Pakistani military figures in exchange for critical weapons technology.

Abdul Qadeer Khan has given a United States-based expert documents that appear to show North Korea's government paid more than $3.5 million to two Pakistani military officials as part of the deal, the expert told The Associated Press Wednesday.

To back up his claim, Khan released what he said was a copy of a North Korean official's 1998 letter to him, written in English, that purports to describe the secret deal.

Khan gave the documents to Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an authority on Pakistan's weapons program. He did so because he has been accused by his government of running a covert nuclear smuggling operation without official knowledge or consent.

"He gave it to me because he regarded it as showing that the story, the perception that he had been a rogue operator was false," Henderson said.

The letter, along with a statement by Khan describing the deal, suggests that at least some top-level Pakistani military officials knew early on about some of Khan's extensive sale of nuclear weapons technology to other countries, including North Korea, Iran and Libya. (read more)