Voicing concern over the release of A Q Khan from the house arrest,the Obama Administration has said it wants “assurances” from Pakistan that its disgraced scientist is not involved in any nuclear proliferation activities.
A Pakistani court declared that 72-year-old Khan a “free citizen” five years after he was put under house arrest,raising serious concerns in the US about the possible revival of nuclear proliferation activities by him. In January,the US had slapped ban on Khan and his nuclear proliferation network.
“The President (Barack Obama) and this government want assurances that Dr Khan is not involved or engaged in any of the activity that resulted in his house arrest earlier,” White House spokesperson,Robert Gibbs,told reporters on Friday.
However,he said the US government has not received any official word from Pakistan on Khan’s release.
“Obviously this President has made clear many times the great concern that he has about nuclear proliferation.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton too expressed concern over the release of Khan from house arrest yesterday.
“I am very much concerned,” she told reporters in response to a question during a joint media availability with the Philippine President,Macapagal-Arroyo,at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of State Department.
“We’ll have more to say about that,” Clinton said in her brief response when a reporter sought her reaction on the release of Khan.
Earlier in the day,the State Department made it clear it is not pleased with the latest developments in Islamabad. The US believes that Khan continues to be a significant “proliferation risk” and his release from house arrest would be “unfortunate”,its spokesperson,Gordon Duguid,said.
“On the general principle of A Q Khan and his status,let me say that in our view it would be unfortunate” if the court has released him,Duguid said in response to a question.
“We believe A Q Khan remains a serious proliferation risk. The proliferation support that Khan and his associates provided to Iran and North Korea has had a harmful impact on the international security,and will for years to come.”
Duguid said Pakistan is well aware of the US position in this regard and Washington is trying to confirm the statement made by Khan’s lawyer about his release from house arrest.
“If he is released,we think it would be extremely regrettable. This man remains a serious proliferation risk,” he said.
“The United States and its international partners have done a good job in tracking down this network. That should have no effect or influence on whether or not Khan is let out of his current status of detention,” Duguid said.