AFP: Pakistan will, under certain conditions, send centrifuge parts for tests by the UN’s atomic agency to help establish whether Iran has been secretly developing nuclear weapons, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Friday. The parts could allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to determine whether highly enriched uranium contamination found in Iran had originated there, or if it had
come from Pakistan. AFP
By Lawrence Bartlett
KUALA LUMPUR – Pakistan will, under certain conditions, send centrifuge parts for tests by the UN’s atomic agency to help establish whether Iran has been secretly developing nuclear weapons, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Friday.
The parts could allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to determine whether highly enriched uranium contamination found in Iran had originated there, or if it had come from Pakistan.
“Yes, we will send these parts under certain conditions,” Aziz told AFP in an interview with a small group of journalists during a visit to Malaysia.
“We have various discussions going on with the IAEA as part of a process which relates to the situation between Iran and various countries. We are willing to cooperate with them to come up with some credible solution to this problem.”
Aziz did not detail what conditions would have to be met before the parts are despatched, but his comments appeared to go further than President Pervez Musharraf’s statement in March that Pakistan would “consider” sending the parts to Vienna.
Islamabad had previously insisted it would not surrender the components despite admitting that its disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan had given centrifuges to Tehran.
Pakistan has been caught up in a row over nuclear proliferation since February 2004, when Khan confessed to passing atomic technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.
He is under virtual house arrest in Islamabad but Musharraf pardoned him and has refused to let foreign countries or the IAEA question him.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said that Pakistan and the other countries involved in the nuclear black market must cooperate if his agency is to answer US charges that Tehran was covertly developing nuclear weapons.
“I was in Iran recently and Pakistan believes the current nuclear position in Iran ought to be settled peacefully,” Aziz said.
“The European initiative is a good way to go in solving this matter and we certainly feel that military action is not the right approach.”
Iran wants to make enriched uranium, which can be fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive material in atom bombs.
Germany, France and Britain are trying to entice the Iranians to abandon their nuclear program with offers of economic and security benefits.
While publicly backing the European negotiations, United States officials privately are already looking beyond them and hoping to nudge the Europeans into tougher UN action if no movement is recorded by the summer.
President George W. bush has said he could not rule out using force if Tehran failed to rein in its nuclear plans.
Aziz said in an address to the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute in Kuala Lumpur later that “Pakistan is committed completely to nuclear non-proliferation.
“Following the 1998 tests which established Pakistan as an overt nuclear power, we have instituted a stong nuclear command authority for effective command and control of our strategic assets.
“Our nuclear capability is now a factor of regional security and stability.
“We are opposed to the spread of nuclear-weapons capability and have cooperated with the IAEA to ensure against leakage of nuclear materials from Pakistan.”