Posted: 8/24/2006 1:12:02 PM EDT
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who confessed to leaking sensitive nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is battling prostate cancer, the government said Tuesday.
Khan, 70, a leader in the program that built the Muslim world's first nuclear bomb, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this month following a routine examination, according to a Ministry of Information statement.
"The government of Pakistan would like to hold out an assurance that the best specialist medical care is being provided to Dr A.Q. Khan in consultation with his family and personal doctors," the statement said.
Khan has lived under virtual house arrest in Islamabad since he confessed in early 2004 to leaking sensitive nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
He is still regarded as a national hero by many Pakistanis because of his role in developing the country's nuclear deterrent to rival that of its larger neighbor India. Khan was pardoned by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan launched a formal investigation in 2003 after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, wrote a letter to Pakistan saying that Khan was involved in leaking technology to other countries.
It emerged that Khan operated an international black market in weapons technology and know-how. Pakistan's government maintains that it was not aware of his dealings, but has repeatedly refused to allow the IAEA to question him.
And the Pakistanis have still refused to allow the US to question him on the nuclear technology and bomb designs he sold to North Korea and Iran. He has the answers and he's going to take them to his grave.
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