TOKYO, (AFP) – Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto said in an interview with a Japanese newspaper published Sunday that Pakistan bought long-range missile technology from North Korea following a visit she made to Pyongyang in 1993.
But in the interview in London with the Asahi Shimbun, she denied suspicions that Pakistan provided the Stalinist state with nuclear arms technology in exchange for the missile expertise.
“Through my visit to North Korea in December 1993, we managed to obtain long-range missile technology,” Bhutto was quoted as saying in a Japanese-language translation.
Asahi said that the original English text of the interview was not immediately available.
“We did not obtain them in exchange for nuclear technology. We bought them with money,” she said.
But the former premier added she did not approve of missile development on the basis of the North Korean technology.
It is widely believed that a series of Pakistan’s Ghauri missiles are based on North Korea’s Nodong missile.
Bhutto, who served as premier from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993-1996, left Pakistan in 1999 after she was convicted of corruption and other charges. She lives in exile in London.
She told Sky News earlier this month she was confident of clearing her name over corruption charges and refused to rule out a return to politics in her homeland.
Bhutto told Asahi that she had not approved of any sales of nuclear technology while in office.
The Pakistani government announced in February that Pakistani nuclear expert Abdul Qadeer Khan had personally sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya through a nuclear black market.
But the government denied its involvement in the sales.
Khan, a one-time national hero credited with making Pakistan a nuclear power, has admitted selling nuclear secrets abroad but was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf.