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Scientist now denies selling nuke secrets

In a phone interview with McClatchy Newspapers in Islamabad, his first with a U.S. news organization, Khan also said others in Pakistan who had aided him had gotten away “scot-free” while he'd become a “black sheep” for offering advice on nuclear weaponry.

Khan's protestations of innocence didn't impress Western experts.

Told of Khan's defense, David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said simply: “He's just lying; the facts are established.” According to Albright, Khan agreed to oversee the building of a sophisticated nuclear facility for Libya.

In a detailed confession in 2004, Khan said that over a period of 15 years he'd provided Iran, Libya and North Korea with designs and technology.

On Tuesday, he denied that he'd done anything but offer “very small advice” on where to acquire the technology. “When Iran and Libya wanted to do their program, they asked our advice. We said: ‘OK, these are the suppliers, who provide all.'”

Khan said that the companies were European.

Specifically, he said the nuclear technology included “complete centrifuge design, complete enrichment-plant drawings, complete weapons drawings.”

Khan disputed his confessed assistance to North Korea as well. He said that North Korea had obtained a different technology from its relationship with Russia.

“North Korea, right from the beginning, was one of the closest partners of Russia. All the North Korean scientists and engineers studied in Russia,” Khan said.

Khan said he wouldn't co-operate with inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have pressed to interrogate him.

“Why should I? Are we their colony? We are not even a signatory to the NPT. There are no international laws that force anybody to comply,” he said, referring to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.