Four years ago Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to sharing nuclear secrets with some of the world's most notorious dictatorships.
Today he did a complete about-face.
“I was not involved in any nuclear proliferation,” he told CBS News by telephone from his home in Islamabad.
Dr Kahn has been under house arrest for the four years since his televised confession in 2004.
On February 4, that year, he appeared on Pakistani national television after a government investigation into his role in transferring nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
“I was confronted with the evidence," Khan said, "and I have voluntarily admitted that much of it is true and accurate.”
A metallurgical engineer, he had been awarded a gold medal by the Pakistani government after the country's successful nuclear tests in 1998.
There has clearly been some shift, politically, socially, or otherwise, that has allowed Khan to speak out in this way and drop one of the biggest bombshells about proliferation in years. The first question--is he telling the truth?--is the hardest to answer. It's entirely possible that Khan is tired of being detained at home and wants some time in the spotlight. Speaking this way indicates he has no fear. Somehow, someone was able to pressure him into either lying or telling the truth in 2004 and now that pressure is gone.
Today, though, Khan told CBS News that he had not written that confession, but merely read a document put in front of him “because of the promises that were made.”
Back in 2004, Khan was never charged with any crime, and was given a full pardon by the Pakistani government a day after his television appearance.
Asked today whether he had had anything to do with the Libyan or Iranian nuclear programs, Khan said no.
“I have never put my foot on Iranian soil, I never met any Iranians..” he said. "And I never put my foot on the Libyan soil.”
“When they asked my assistance, I told them, ‘Go to the people in Dubai who supplied us.’”
Khan is now claiming that the parts necessary for a nuclear program are available for the asking from open suppliers in Dubai - a claim that, he feels, absolves him from any responsibility.
It’s also a claim that is contradicted by solid evidence collected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Pakistani, U.S. and Dutch governments.
Sort of makes the most recent NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program look a little more interesting, doesn't it?
If Khan is telling the truth, then someone somewhere has been perpetrating some very serious lies.