Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday said there was no link between the claimed North Korean nuclear test and the A.Q. Khan proliferation network, and termed as "regrettable" Pyongyang's decision to go ahead with the test against the advice of the international community.

Asked about the possible link between North Korea's nuclear capability and the proliferation racket traced to Pakistan's top most nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who now lives under house arrest, spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said there was none.

"There is absolutely no link between the nuclear test conducted by North Korea and what might have gone on Dr. A.Q. Khan and the North Korean Government. North Korea's nuclear programme is plutonium based and Pakistan's programme is mainly uranium based," she said.

Ms. Aslam also defended Pakistan's decision to criticise the North Korean nuclear test when Islamabad had conducted such tests in the past despite world objections.

"There is a difference. Pakistan did not initiate nuclear tests in this region. We did not initiate nuclear weapons programme. We were acting in purely in self-defence," she said, in an unspoken reference to India's nuclear programme. The spokeswoman said the Korean peninsula was free of nuclear weapons.