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Pakistan quizzes 'father of bomb'

Abdul Qadeer Khan is not under detention, says Pakistan.
Abdul Qadeer Khan is not under detention, says Pakistan.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani officials questioned the man considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb Monday after news reports that the country may have been the source of nuclear technology and information for Iran and other countries.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said Abdul Qadeer Khan was questioned in connection with the "debriefing" of three Pakistani nuclear scientists about the matter.

"He is not under detention and the nature of the questioning is not interrogative," said Khan. "He is too eminent a scientist to undergo a normal debriefing session."

In 1983, a court in the Netherlands convicted Khan of stealing European designs for enriching uranium. His conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Recent news reports have said there is evidence that Iran purchased technology and information from inside Pakistan, and appeared to use it in its own nuclear program. Other nations may have received such information and technology as well, the news reports said.

Pakistani officials acknowledged the possibility that individual scientists may have been involved in transferring nuclear technology and knowledge. But they said they do not know if that happened, and insist the government itself did not take part in any such exchange.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan did not give a solid answer when asked if the U.S. government had concluded Pakistan was the source of nuclear technology in Libya and Iran, .

"That is the past," he said Monday. "I'm not in a position to discuss those matters related to classified information and intelligence matters. ... (but) President (Pervez) Musharraf has assured us there are not any transfers of WMD-related technologies or know-how going on in the present time."

--CNN Correspondent Ash-har Quraishi contributed to this report.


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