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Pakistan Cabinet Recommends Pardon for Nuclear Scientist - 2004-02-05


Pakistan's state television reports the cabinet has recommended clemency for Abdul Qadeer Khan -- the father of the country's nuclear program - who admitted leaking nuclear secrets.

The announcement said the cabinet sent its recommendation to President Pervez Musharraf to pardon the scientist.

Mr. Khan made a dramatic personal apology on state television Wednesday and absolved Islamabad and fellow scientists of any responsibility for the technology transfers to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

He said he is fully responsible for the proliferation activities at Pakistan's main nuclear research laboratory, which he headed from the 1970's until his retirement in 2001.

Many in Pakistan believe Mr. Khan could not have sold nuclear secrets and sent technology abroad without the knowledge of top military officials. The Islamic opposition says Mr. Khan has been treated as a scapegoat.

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters the Bush administration considers Pakistan's investigation into proliferation issues an internal matter.

He said it is up to Islamabad to decide whether to prosecute the scientist, who was removed last week from his prestigious post as scientific adviser to the prime minister.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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