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Gadhafi: We don't want to hide anything
( 2003-12-23 14:44) (Agencies)

The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Monday he will lead the first inspection of Libya's nuclear facilities as soon as next week, aiming to kick-start the elimination of the country's programs for weapons of mass destruction. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said he had nothing to hide. "Come and see what it is, we don't want to hide anything," he told CNN.

Speaking of other nations with nuclear weapons, Gadhafi said they should also open themselves to inspections.

"In my opinion they should follow the steps, or take the example of Libya, so that they prevent any tragedy from (being) inflicted on their people," he said.

He added that this sort of openess would force Israel to "expose their programs of and their weapons of mass destruction."

In the wake of Libya's surprise admission, Pakistan acknowledged Monday the possibility that some of its scientists may have provided nuclear technology to foreign nations.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he could make his trip Libya sometime next week.

In Washington, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the United States expects Gadhafi "to act on the commitments he's made. And the initial signs are positive."

Pakistan's government has strongly denied allegations it gave such information to countries such as Iran, North Korea and Libya but said Monday it has questioned the founder of its nuclear program as part of its inquiry into whether any of its scientists acted without authorization.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told The Associated Press in Islamabad on Monday that "some individuals may have been doing something on their own."

Both Libya and Iran have imported centrifuges for uranium enrichment, although Libya which publicly admitted Friday it was seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction says it stopped short of an enrichment program. Diplomats have identified Pakistan as one source of Iran's equipment procurement.

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, was been questioned as part of the debriefing of a "very small number of scientists," but is not in custody, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan.

"No restrictions have been imposed on him," he added.

At least two scientists from Khan Research Laboratories, the country's top nuclear laboratory named after its founder, have been held for questioning this month.

The Bush administration on Monday registered its confidence in Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf assured U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2002 that Pakistan was not leaking any technology, "and we continue to accept that assurance," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday.

At the same time, Boucher said, "we'd certainly welcome Pakistan's investigation and its debriefing of individuals who may have valuable information" bearing on Musharraf's assurances.

ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said much of Libya's technology came from abroad, but declined to say whether there was a common source for Libya, Iran or prewar Iraq or whether the three nations exchanged equipment and expertise.

"There has been, of course, a good deal of importation from abroad of equipment and material," he told reporters. "We do not know yet whether there was any linkage with other nations."

Diplomats familiar with the agency said ElBaradei could fly to Tripoli on Friday. They also said he and the IAEA were scrambling to play catch-up after being caught off guard by Libya's admission, the result of nine months of secret negotiations with Britain and the United States.

ElBaradei praised the Libyan move "to rid itself of all programs or activities that are relevant or could lead to the production of weapons of mass destruction."

Libya agreed to tell the IAEA about current nuclear programs, adhere to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and sign an additional protocol to allow wide-ranging inspections on short notice.

ElBaradei said Libya's weapons research effort started with a program to enrich uranium through spinning in centrifuges "sometime in the 80s (and) picked up steam in the 90s."

The United States had also learned that Libya had tens of tons of mustard agent, a World War I-era chemical weapon, produced about 10 years ago. It also had aircraft bombs capable of dispersing the mustard agent in combat. In addition, it had a supply of Scud-C ballistic missiles made in North Korea. The weapons can hit targets 500 miles away.

Also Monday, the world's chemical weapons watchdog said Libya's promise will help rid the globe of "these heinous means of terror, death and destruction."

"Libya's imminent accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention brings us much closer to our shared goal of a world free of these means of terror, death and destruction," the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement from its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

Libya is one of just 14 countries that has neither signed nor ratified the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention prohibiting the production, storage and use of chemical weapons.

Gadhafi's decision to come clean is the latest in a series of moves to end his country's international isolation and shed its reputation as a rogue nation.

The United States imposed sanctions in 1986, accusing Libya of supporting terrorist groups. Ten years later, America passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, which threatened to penalize the U.S. partners of European companies that did significant business in Libya and Iran.

While U.S. sanctions remain in force, the U.N. Security Council voted to abolish its sanctions on Libya in September, after it agreed to pay compensation to families of the Lockerbie bombing.

Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground. A former Libyan intelligence agent was found guilty of the bombing in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison.

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