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Officials: Pakistan aided Libya nuke program

Musharraf has promised to tighten control over Pakistani nuclear scientists.
Musharraf has promised to tighten control over Pakistani nuclear scientists.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Libya obtained key nuclear weapons technology and assistance from Pakistan, including critical centrifuge technology, U.S. officials have told CNN.

The U.S. finding comes less than a month after the Pakistan government admitted some of the country's top nuclear scientists possibly passed nuclear information to Iran.

At the time, Pakistan said it was questioning three scientists in connection with the possible transfer of nuclear technology and information to Iran and other countries.

But two Bush administration officials told CNN on Tuesday that so far the U.S. had not seen any evidence that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf was aware of the Libyan connection.

One of the officials said there was no sign of Pakistani government involvement in the assistance to Libya.

The second said "this is still unfolding and there are questions unanswered" but that there were no indications that Musharraf had any knowledge.

U.S. officials in the past have raised concerns that Pakistan has shared key nuclear secrets with North Korea in exchange for missile technology.

One of the key questions, the second official said, is the timeline of the technology transfers.

Both officials said the U.S. conclusion that Pakistan was the source of centrifuge technology critical to developing nuclear weapons was based on a review of Libya's program since its promise to verifiably end all weapons of mass destruction programs.

Musharraf has repeatedly promised to tighten government controls over Pakistani scientists and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters Tuesday that, "We fully expect President Musharraf and the government of Pakistan to follow through on those assurances."

McClellan went on to say, "We recognize that it's always difficult to control the activities of rogue individuals whose motives are personal gain."

Speaking privately, other U.S. officials said developing the timeline for cooperation with Libya was critical to determine if there was cooperation between Pakistani scientists and Libyan officials in the past couple of years -- after Musharraf promised to be more diligent in preventing the sharing of nuclear technology and technical assistance.

-- CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report


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