Facebook Twitter

Pakistani N-scientist flees to U.S.

SHARE Pakistani N-scientist flees to U.S.

A Pakistani nuclear scientist has fled to the United States and agreed to detail his country's nuclear program, saying he is concerned Pakistan might be considering a strike against India, his lawyer says.

Iftikhar Chaudhry Khan, 29, is prepared to describe Pakistan's nuclear program to U.S. officials, including assistance it has received from China and Iran, attorney Michael J. Wildes said today in a statement from his New York office.But the Pakistani government said today in Islamabad that first-strike strategy would not be discussed with scientists or Khan, who they say was a low-level civil engineer who did not have access to such information.

Khan arrived in New York on May 22, saying he feared for his life and requesting protection. His wife remained in Pakistan and is being held against her will, Wildes said.

"We are applying for political asylum to assure Dr. Khan's safety, and have enlisted the support of the U.S. intelligence community to help locate Dr. Khan's wife," Wildes said.

Khan and Wildes did not immediately return calls seeking further comment.

In an interview published Wednesday in USA Today, Wildes said Khan left Pakistan before the series of nuclear tests conducted in May by both India and Pakistan.

The tests were widely viewed as spurring a nuclear arms race in South Asia. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947 - two of them over Kashmir, which is physically divided between the two countries.

Khan told the newspaper that he and four fellow scientists became alarmed after attending a top-secret meeting in April on Pakistan's nuclear strategy and that the five signed a protest letter out of concern Pakistan would use nuclear weapons first.

USA Today said Pakistan has denied that any of its nuclear scientists defected and called the accusation "of planning to launch a pre-emptive strike against India . . . particularly malicious."

The report said Khan's four associates are believed to be in England and that Khan produced a copy of a photo ID naming him as an assistant research officer with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. It said Khan already has had one interview with the FBI.