North Korea bribed Pakistani officials with US$3.5 million in cash and jewelry in 1998 to obtain nuclear technology, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear program Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan claims.
Khan released a copy of a letter written to him by then North Korean Workers Party Secretary for the munitions industry Jon Byong-ho, the Washington Post reported Thursday. Jon is now chief of the Politburo.
The letter is dated July 15, 1998, marked "secret" and carries what appears to be Jon's signature. Jon refers to Kang Tae-yun, then economic counselor at the North Korean Embassy in Islamabad, who stated that $3 million "have already been paid" to one Pakistani military official and half a million dollars and some jewelry had been given to a second official.
In a statement written for investigators in 2004, Khan says the recipient was then Pakistani Army chief of staff Jehangir Karamat. He claims he first handed Karamat $500,000 and then the remaining $2.5 million in several installments, concealed in canvas bags and cartons. Khan says he was told they were for a "secret Army fund," according to the daily.
He says the recipient of the half million and the precious stones was Lt. Gen Zulfiqar Khan.
"Please give the agreed documents, components, etc.," related to nuclear weapons to a North Korean Embassy official "to be flown back when our plane returns after delivery of missile components," Jon wrote.
The authenticity of this letter has not been verified, but the daily quoted a senior U.S. official as saying, "Government experts concluded after examining a copy of the letter that the signature appears authentic and that the substance is 'consistent with our knowledge' now of the same events."
But Karamat and Zulfiqar Khan, the alleged recipients, denied the accusation and claimed the letter was fabricated by Dr. Khan.
Since the late 1990s, Pakistan has been suspected of importing missile technology from the North in exchange for shipments of uranium enrichment facilities including centrifuges.
Khan has been under house arrest since he was arrested in 2004 for running a private nuclear technology mart supplying countries like Libya and Iran.