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Pakistan nuclear hero 'confesses'

Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan is revered as Pakistan's "father of the bomb."

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The man who founded Pakistan's nuclear program has confessed to transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya, a government official told CNN Monday.

By the end of the week, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is expected to address the nation and disclose the information included in Abdul Qadeer Khan's written confession.

The government maintains it has not sanctioned the transfer of any nuclear secrets.

Khan, regarded as a national hero, is being kept under tight security at his home in Islamabad, the official said. He is not allowed to leave or use the telephone.

Ahead of the admission, Pakistan had removed him from a government advisory post in the midst of an investigation into allegations that Pakistani officials shared nuclear technology with other nations, including Iran and Libya.

A government statement said Khan, who held a ministerial-level position, was removed from the post "to facilitate those investigations in a free and objective manner."

Up to this point, Khan had not been labeled a suspect. But Pakistani officials admitted the investigation has centered on him.

In December, Pakistan said some Pakistanis may have sold secrets, after U.N. inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities showed that "Pakistani-linked individuals" had acted as "intermediaries and black marketeers."

Pakistani scientists were later implicated in a scheme to sell high-tech centrifuge technology to Libya. They also have been named in probes into North Korea's nuclear program.

Pakistan has detained three former army officers and three people in the country's nuclear program as part of an investigation into the possible spread of the country's nuclear weapons technology, Pakistani intelligence sources said last month.

Top Pakistani officials, including Musharraf, attended a special session of the National Command Authority (NCA) Saturday to review the progress of the investigation. They issued a statement reiterating "Pakistan's strong resolve and commitment in adherence to international agreements of non-proliferation."

"It would never be in the national interest to share this technology in whatever form with any other country," the statement said.

The statement also said the government "condemns and distances itself in categorical terms from individual acts of indiscretion in the past," adding it was certain no such acts had taken place since the NCA was established in February 2000.


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