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No 'deal' on Pakistan nuke pardon

United States
Nuclear Policies
Pervez Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The United States and Pakistan have not struck a deal enabling Islamabad to go easy on the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program while ratcheting up its fight against al Qaeda in tribal regions, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Sunday.

"This is all humbug. There is just no deal," Musharraf told ABC's This Week.

"If anyone thinks in the United States that we should be coerced into some direction, well, I'm afraid they don't know ground realities here."

Musharraf has pardoned A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, who has confessed to selling nuclear technology on the black market.

Speculation has abounded that Pakistan struck a deal with Washington: To make up for taking a soft line against Khan, Pakistan would intensify the battle against al Qaeda terrorists along the Afghan border. But Musharraf told ABC that no such deal exists.

He said that position has been made clear to officials at the State Department, and they "know that nuclear proliferation has not been done by the government. They know that there are some individuals who have done it."

Of Khan, he said, "People are, I think, over-assessing the physical damage of the proliferation that he has done."

Khan has confessed to supplying Libya with enriched uranium and gas centrifuge parts as part of a sophisticated nuclear black market.

He is also believed to have provided nuclear weapons designs to Iran, North Korea and possibly other nations.

Musharraf noted that making a nuclear bomb "is not easy" and is "highly technical," even if a country has designs for nuclear weapons.

"Then, having got the bomb, you need to know how to explode this bomb. You can break it -- you can throw it and break it. You can't explode it unless you have a proper expertise over trigger mechanisms," he said.

Musharraf also was asked if he believed al Qaeda had the capability to make a suitcase nuclear bomb.

"Never. Absolutely impossible," he said. "It's not that you can sit in mountains and make these things right there."

He added, "If I hand over a missile or a bomb to any extremist, believe me, he can do nothing about it. He cannot explode it."

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