ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) said Pakistan is considering handing over centrifuges to the International Atomic Energy Agency (search) as part of a probe into Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, which officials believe was aided by a Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Musharraf said the nuclear watchdog has asked Pakistan (search) to supply the centrifuges to check whether traces of uranium found on nuclear equipment in Iran originated in Pakistan.
"We are thinking about it. Negotiations are going on. We will see," Musharraf said in an interview with Pakistan's Aaj television station that aired Thursday. "But, we told them that if we do it, this will be the end of it."
Musharraf also said that the black market run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program who has been under virtual house arrest for more than a year, is out of business.
"A. Q. Khan is not doing anything now. This is my guarantee. I tell this to everybody ... The way he is living in his home, he is not in contact with anyone. He is not managing any network," Musharraf said.
Musharraf pardoned Khan after he admitted trading nuclear technology, but he has allowed him to keep the money he earned from the trade, believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier this month, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed acknowledged Khan had given Iran centrifuges but insisted that the government had no role in the transfer.
Iran is suspected of pursuing a nuclear weapons program and is under pressure by the United States, France, Britain and Germany to abandon uranium enrichment, believed to be a key step in building a nuclear bomb.
Iran says its program is aimed at generating power.
Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium — a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity but also make material suitable for atomic warheads.
Musharraf's comments came more than a week after the Foreign Ministry denied that IAEA has asked for the sophisticated equipment, saying Pakistan will not comply even if a request is made.