- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A
Pakistani journalist who interviewed Osama bin Laden last week said on
Monday the Saudi-born dissident had told him nuclear arms could be bought
on the central Asian black market for $10 million to $20 million.
- Hamid Mir, editor of the Urdu-language Ausaf newspaper,
told CNN's "Larry King Live" that he had pressed bin Laden and
his aide, Ayman Zawahri, on the issue after they said they would retaliate
in kind for any U.S. use of nuclear warheads.
- "He said that if the United States of America is
going to use these kinds of weapons against us, then we reserve the right
to respond back the same way," said Mir, who said he had conducted
the interview somewhere in Afghanistan after being taken blindfolded to
a secret location.
- "He used the word 'nuclear deterrent' and he said
'we will not use these weapons first but we will retaliate'. After that
I tried my best to get more information on from where you get these kinds
of weapons, but he was not willing to speak more on this issue," Mir
- "But when my interview was finished and we were
just having tea, I engaged him again on this issue and I was trying to
get information from where you got these kind of weapons.
- "They gave me some indication that you can if you
have $10 million, $20 million, you can get these kinds of weapons from
the underworld mafia of the central Asian states and some disgruntled
- Mir's comments elaborated on accounts of his interview
published in Pakistan on Saturday, when bin Laden's reference to nuclear
retaliation was first reported.
- Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin
Powell, said on Sunday it was unlikely that bin Laden or his al Qaeda
had access to nuclear arms.
- The United States is leading a military campaign to
al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors, accusing bin Laden's group of being
behind the September 11 attacks on America in which about 4,500 people
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