PAKISTAN PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF SAYS U.S. TOLD HIM HIS
COUNTRY WOULD BE BOMBED BACK TO THE STONE AGE IF IT
DIDN'T HELP FIGHT THE WAR ON TERROR -- "60 MINUTES"
He Also Speaks about Pakistan's Nuclear Secrets Being Passed to Iran and North Korea
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tells Steve Kroft that after 9/11, the U.S. threatened to bomb his country if it didn't help America's war on terror. Kroft's interview with the Pakistani leader, in which he also discusses his embarrassment over his country's nuclear secrets getting into the hands of other nations, will be broadcast on the 39th season premiere of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Sept. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
President Musharraf says the threat came from Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage and was delivered to Musharraf's intelligence director. "The intelligence director told me that [Armitage] said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,"' recalls Musharraf. It was insulting, he says: "I think it was a very rude remark." But he reacted to it in a responsible way, he tells Kroft. "One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that's what I did."
Armitage disputes the language but doesn't deny that the message was strong.
The message came with demands that irked Musharraf, such as turning over his border posts and bases for the U.S. military to use in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some were "ludicrous," like the one demanding he suppress domestic expression of support for terrorism against the United States. "If somebody's expressing views, we cannot curb the expression of views," Musharraf tells Kroft.
Neither could Musharraf curb the leaking of his country's nuclear secrets, apparently, until he was embarrassed in 2003 by then-CIA Director George Tenet. Musharraf claims he only suspected that A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's Nuclear weapons program, was passing secrets to Iran and North Korea until Tenet confronted him with proof at the United Nations in 2003. "[Tenet] took his briefcase out, passed me some papers. It was a centrifuge design with all its numbers and signatures of Pakistan. It was the most embarrassing moment," Musharraf reveals. He learned then, he says, that not only were blueprints being given to Iran and North Korea, but the centrifuges themselves -- the crucial technology needed to enrich uranium to weapons grade -- were being passed to them. "[Khan] gave them centrifuge designs. He gave them centrifuge parts. He gave them centrifuges," Musharraf tells Kroft.
Despite the fact that the military was guarding Khan's nuclear facilities and the total amount of secret material sent from the lab was more than 18 tons, Musharraf denies anyone in the government or military had to know. "First of all�these centrifuges, or their parts, these are not huge elements. They can be put in your car and moved," he tells Kroft. "[The shipments] were not done once�.They must have been transported many times," says Musharraf.