Sunday, October 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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TRIBUNE SPECIAL
Pak N-scientists come under US scrutiny
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 27
Against the backdrop of nuclear weapon technology getting into the hands of fundamentalists and terrorists through covert assistance of Pakistani nuclear scientists, Islamabad is understood to be under increasing pressure from Washington to review and thoroughly revamp its nuclear safety measures which would include a thorough screening of scientists working on nuclear weapon projects in Pakistan.

This piquant situation is being faced by Pakistan these days as the safety and secrecy of its nuclear arsenal have come under the hawkish eyes of the USA. Hundreds of American troops are already in Pakistan along with highly sophisticated intelligence-gathering equipment and gadgetry.

“Pakistan sowed the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind,” remarked a Pakistan-watcher here when asked whether the Pakistan government decision to side with the USA was now boomeranging on Pakistan. The development is fraught with significant strategic overtones as China is deeply and intrinsically linked to Pakistan’s nuclear programme and any snooping around by the American troops in Pakistan is likely to attract Beijing’s ire.

It may be recalled that Pakistan’s security agencies have arrested three Pakistani nuclear scientists in the past one week on suspicion of working for the Bin Laden-Al Qaida-Taliban clique for preparing a nuclear weapon for them.

It is a well-known fact, well-placed sources today said, that Pakistan’s nuclear programme and the scientists connected with it are kept under strict vigilance not only in their offices but also at their residences by Pakistani military and ISI.

All outside visitors are required to take prior permission to meet any scientist working in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and its various offices.

Therefore, as the Americans are believed to have asked the Pakistanis, the ISI had the full knowledge of the arrested Pakistani scientists working in cahoots with the Bin Laden-Taliban-Al Qaida nexus. connections of Pakistani nuclear scientists with Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida and Taliban have come under scrutiny of the USA.

Well-placed sources said here today that the Americans have very politely asked Islamabad to undertake a thorough revamp of its nuclear safety immediately so that fundamentalists or terrorists do not get access to nuclear technology

Sources said it is also possible that Pakistan may have been clandestinely processing nuclear components from Western countries by the money which has been given by Osama bin Laden.

If it is so, stealing of nuclear material by some Pakistanis in Western countries confirms that it might have been done at the behest of Bin Laden.

Pakistan might have been obliged to bin Laden as the Pakistani government may well have told Bin Laden something like “Do this work and help us also”, sources said.Back

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