LONDON – A prominent Pakistani nuclear scientist has repudiated his confession that he sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran.
Abdul Qadeer Khan tells a British newspaper that he was forced to agree to the confession as a matter of national interest. Khan has been under house arrest in Islamabad since 2004 after admitting to passing on nuclear technology to other countries.
Khan did not deny in the interview published Friday in the Guardian that Pakistan had passed on nuclear secrets. However, he said he never sold nuclear secrets or profited from such transactions.
Experts have said they suspect that Khan was persuaded to make the confession in order to conceal government involvement in nuclear trafficking.
Though reviled in the West, Khan enjoys national hero status in Pakistan, where he is credited with making the country the world’s only Islamic nuclear power.
He remains under de facto house arrest, though Pakistan’s new government has suggested it will relax the restrictions on him. Khan could not be reached for comment Friday.