Islamabad: Pakistan's disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan has claimed that he had transferred nuclear technology to "two countries" on the orders of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

"The then Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto summoned me and named the two countries which were to be assisted and issued clear directions in this regard," Khan said in an interview with the Jang media group.

He did not name the two countries.

Khan claimed he had no option but to obey Bhutto, who was killed by a suicide attacker in late 2007.

"I was not independent but was bound to abide by the orders of the Prime Minister, hence I did take this step in compliance with her order," he said.

"The Prime Minister would have certainly known about the role and cooperation of the two countries, mentioned by her, in our national interest," he claimed.

The transfer of nuclear technology is not easy and at least 800 people supervise the process, said Khan, who was placed under house arrest after he acknowledged in 2004 that he had run a clandestine proliferation ring.

Libya and North Korea are among the countries to which Khan's ring supplied nuclear technology and know-how.

The current Pakistan People's Party-led government has eased restrictions on Khan over the past few years.

Khan has also retracted his confession, claiming he was pressured to acknowledge on TV that he had run a proliferation network.

Khan said former premier Nawaz Sharif, who now claims credit for the nuclear tests of 1998, was "absolutely not ready to conduct" the blasts and did not want to do so because of the fear that the US might be annoyed and his government might be threatened.


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