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'Father of Pakistani Nuclear Program' Says Was Ordered to Leak Secrets by Benazir Bhutto

Abdul Qadeer Khan has until now claimed he acted alone in sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan now says he was told by former PM to pass on information.

Pakistan's former top scientist says he leaked nuclear secrets to other countries on orders from former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, according to an interview published Saturday.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's nuclear program, said in 2004 that he acted alone in sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan now says he was told by Bhutto to pass on the information.

"The then-prime minister Benazir Bhutto summoned me and named two countries which were to be assisted," Khan told Jang media group. He did not identify the two countries. Khan said he was bound to follow the "clear" instructions.

Passing on the nuclear information was not a simple task as there were hundreds of people monitoring the project, Khan said, in an apparent attempt to substantiate his claim that senior political and military officials knew of the transfer deals.

Bhutto, who served as prime minister from 1993-96, was assassinated in a bomb attack in December 2007. Her political party, which is leading the incumbent ruling coalition in Pakistan, refused to offer any immediate reaction on the accusations.

"I will be in a position to comment after consulting my leadership and people who worked with him (Khan)," Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said to DawnNews.

Khan, who spent five years under house arrest, also claimed that another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, did not want Pakistan to go for tit-for-tat nuclear tests after the country's arch rival India tested atomic bombs in May 1998.

"I made it clear that if he did so, I shall put the facts before the media. After this, Nawaz Sharif was compelled to conduct the nuclear tests," said Khan.

Khan is still widely regarded as a national hero and recently launched his own political group, Save Pakistan Movement.