Pakistan: Iran did get centrifuges
But rogue scientist Khan, not government, to blame says Islamabad
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's minister for information and broadcasting says that A.Q. Khan, the country's leading nuclear scientist, provided Iran with centrifuges that could be used in the process of making nuclear weapons.
The now-disgraced Khan has been under house arrest since authorities discovered his participation in a nuclear black market last year. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned him and has kept him away from international investigators.
"He had given centrifuges to Iran in his individual capacity and the government of Pakistan had nothing to do with this," Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told CNN Thursday.
Khan confessed to providing Libya with enriched uranium and gas centrifuge parts.
Ahmed said it had been duly acknowledged that Khan was involved in proliferation at the individual level but added the government would still not hand him over to any other country.
Western diplomats have suspected Khan was responsible for centrifuge parts found to contain radioactive traces in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been conducting tests to determine the source of the parts.
The Islamic Republic has said it got the centrifuge parts from the black market but also said it didn't know their origin.
Iran contends its nuclear program is intended for peaceful uses, like electric power generation, but the United States has accused Iran of seeking to make a nuclear weapon.
When Khan was arrested in February 2004, a Dubai-based businessman said he had been the middleman for some of the Pakistani scientists transactions, including with Iran.
Diplomats also suspect Khan sold weapons-making material to North Korea and possibly other nations.
CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi contributed to this report