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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bin Laden: Nukes Can Be Bought for $10M-$20M

WASHINGTON -- A Pakistani journalist who interviewed Osama bin Laden last week said Monday the Saudi-born dissident 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 newspaper Ausaf, 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 words '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 said.

"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 ... 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 Russian scientists."

Mir's comments elaborated on accounts of his interview published Saturday in Pakistan, when bin Laden's reference to nuclear retaliation was first reported.

Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, said Sunday it was unlikely that bin Laden or his al-Qaida network had access to nuclear arms.