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Pakistan fires 'father of bomb'

Abdul Qadeer Khan is not under detention, says Pakistan.
Abdul Qadeer Khan is revered as Pakistan's "father of the bomb"

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The government of Pakistan has removed the founder of the country's nuclear program from a government advisory post in the midst of an investigation into allegations that Pakistani officials shared nuclear technology with other nations, including Iran and Libya.

A government statement said Abdul Qadeer Khan, who held a ministerial-level position, was dismissed "to facilitate those investigations in a free and objective manner."

Khan has not been labeled a suspect, but Pakistani officials said the investigation has centered around him.

In December, Pakistan admitted that some Pakistanis may have sold secrets, after U.N. inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities showed that "Pakistani-linked individuals" had acted as "intermediaries and black marketeers."

Pakistani scientists were later implicated in a scheme to sell high-tech centrifuge technology to Libya.

The scientists have also been named in probes into North Korea's nuclear program. Pakistan denies involvement.

Khan was questioned last month about the allegations, but a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Khan was "not under detention and the nature of the questioning (was) not interrogative."

"He is too eminent a scientist to undergo a normal debriefing session," he said.

Pakistan has detained three former army officers and three people in the country's nuclear program as part of an investigation into the possible spread of the country's nuclear weapons technology, Pakistani intelligence sources said earlier this month.

Top Pakistani officials, including President Pervez Musharraf, attended a special session of the National Command Authority Saturday to review the progress of the investigation and issued a statement reiterating "Pakistan's strong resolve and commitment in adherence to international agreements of non-proliferation."

"It would never be in the national interest to share this technology in whatever form with any other country," the statement said.

The statement said also that the government "condemns and distances itself in categorical terms from individual acts of indiscretion in the past" and added that it was certain no such acts had taken place since the NCA was established in February 2000.

The investigators said their work was nearly completed and said "appropriate action will be taken against those found guilty."

The statement concluded with the government's assurance that Pakistan's nuclear program would continue "in safe and professional hands and should not be subjected to political expediency."


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