Dr. Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan, the so-called “father of the Islamic nuclear bomb," says he doubts North Korea will explode a nuclear device in its current face-off with the United States and South Korea, saying the regime of Kim Jong Un is "not very stupid."
From his luxurious home in Islamabad, Khan, whose newly found political party is inserting itself into the Pakistan’s upcoming elections, said he did not think the North Koreans are “trigger happy.”
In an exclusive 30-minute phone interview, Khan told Fox News: "Oh, no, no, no, they (the North Koreans ) are not very stupid … few people blow it up and get hype, blow it against proportion. North Korea is such a small country, if America drops a single bomb, there won’t be any North Korea on the map of the world. The North Koreans know it very well and the Americans know it very well, but for sheer propaganda and publicity both play the game.”
North Korea’s last nuclear test on Feb. 11 was described as a miniaturized atomic bomb of six-seven kilotons mounted on a Nodong missile, technology brought to Pakistan from North Korea by Khan in the early 1990’s.
“Officially we had a program with them," Khan said in his interview with Fox. "I went there twice…we had a missile program.”
It has been widely reported Khan visited North Korea more than a dozen times to secure the Nodong missile design, which he renamed as the Ghauri. Pakistan first demonstrated its successful nuclear detonation in Chagai in May 1998, under Khan’s supervision.
His lab research center, Khan Research Labs (KRL) in Kahuta, quickly became known worldwide for selling and spreading nuclear weapons technology. Khan became a “nuclear Johnny Appleseed," spreading weapons technology to anyone who would pay the price.
Khan’s client list includes Libya, China, Iran and others. Despite his 2004 confession on Pakistani national television, Khan continues to blame several high-ranking military and government officials including Benazir Bhutto, who was twice elected prime minister before being killed in a suicide bomb attack in December 2007.
Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardar, is currently serving as the current president of Pakistan.
And now, as Khan steps into a roiling political election season, his party - TTP, for Tehreek –e-Tahaffuz - has chosen a missile as its symbol.
Khan told Fox News his party’s name means “safety of Pakistan.”
“Since I have been associated with the nuclear program … I took the missile because everyone said I should choose the missile … it is very simple and easy for the people to remember.”
There are more than 85 million registered voters in a nuclear armed country of 180 million people. Pakistan is struggling with Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist franchises.
Its citizens have spent the past decade in a never-ending cycle of sectarian violence, unemployment, chronic food and energy shortages.
In addition, the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan is looming.
One of the biggest Western concerns has been of that of a “dirty bomb” manufactured from stolen fissile material of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is under the control of the country’s Strategic Planning Division. SPD has assured the international community several times over the years that these concerns are unwarranted.
Washington fears nuclear weapons may be vulnerable to militant attacks or suspected rogue elements within Pakistan’s powerful military.
When asked by Fox News if the Pakistani nukes are safe, Khan responded confidently that “they are quite safe.”
TTP is also the acronym for the Pakistani Taliban, which has vowed to disrupt the upcoming May elections with what has been described in a recent published report as a “tsunami of violence.”
Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”