View Full Version : Pakistan's nuclear Journey

04-13-2010, 10:37 PM
First of all the writer of this article shows a lot of Bias against AQ Khan, but nonetheless all the references are taken from the "Defence Journal". A very reputed source for the references that will be used in this article.

People here believe that Pakistan's nukes were copy of some centrifuge from holland or that AQ Khan was brought to Pakistan in an oil barrell. This article should put the record straight. It talks about all of our heroes who took us nuclear. We owe it to them, i urge all members to read through this if you have time, the struggle itself is a testament to the resilience of Pakistani people

Also it should put the record straight in terms of how robust, modernized and efficient our nuclear program is ( Both Uranium and Plutonium )

happy reading


The 1998 Chaghi tests conducted successfully by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) were indeed Pakistan’s “finest hour”. But the real story behind Pakistan’s historic accomplishment is shrouded in mystery and ignorance of the real facts, and has hardly found its way into the media, for many years now. Pakistan’s journey to Chaghi was a Herculean team effort in which the PAEC played the leading role.

As most people in Pakistan and abroad still think, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan brought a “nuclear cook-book” from Holland and people continue to eulogize him as a "nuclear scientist" where as he is a metallurgist, and not a nuclear scientist or engineer.

They have failed to understand and ignored the underlying efforts of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan and his team of world class nuclear scientists and engineers and Dr. I H Usmani before them. They developed and led the entire nuclear weapons programme including uranium enrichment, the bomb itself, and all related nuclear facilities, training institutions and technologies, and they also mastered the complete “nuclear fuel cycle” and the still largely unknown plutonium programme.

Two eras in the nuclear programme’s history deserve special emphasis.

The first one was under Dr. I H Usmani, who laid the foundation of the civilian nuclear programme in Pakistan, and who remained PAEC Chairman from 1960-71.

The second one was under Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan, who continued as Chairman PAEC from 1972-91, during which the initiation and development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme took place.

The third era under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, who remained Chairman PAEC from 1991-2001, saw the culmination of the nuclear weapons programme, begun under Munir Ahmad Khan, from ‘covert’ to ‘overt’ status at the time of the Chaghi tests in 1998.


In 1956, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was established, with the initial target of capitalizing on the U.S President Eisenhower's ’Atoms for Peace Programme’, and its first chairman was Dr. Nazir Ahmed. The initial work mostly focused in fundamental research in high-energy physics and there were less than ten people working on this.

In 1961, PAEC set up a Mineral Centre at Lahore and a similar multidisciplinary Centre was set up in Dhaka, in the then East Pakistan. With these two centers, the basic research work started.

The first thing that was to be undertaken was the search for Uranium. This continued for about 3 years from 1960 to 1963. Uranium deposits were discovered in the Dera Ghazi Khan district and the first-ever national award was given to the PAEC. Mining of Uranium began in the same year.[i] The PAEC in 1970 began work on a pilot-scale plant at Dera Ghazi Khan for the concentration of uranium ores. The plant had a capacity of 10,000 pounds a day.[ii]

The next landmark under Dr. Usmani was the establishment of PINSTECH – Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, at Nilore near Islamabad. The principal facility there was a 5 MW research reactor, commissioned in 1965 and consisting of the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor (PARR-1) ,which was upgraded to 10 MW under Munir Ahmad Khan in 1990. A second Atomic Research Reactor, PARR-2, was a Pool-type, light-water, 27-30 kWt, training reactor that went critical in 1989 under Munir Ahmed Khan.

Dr. I H Usmani’s contribution to the nuclear programme is fundamental to the development of atomic energy for civilian purposes as he established PINSTECH, that subsequently developed into Pakistan’s premier nuclear research institution. In addition to sending hundreds of young Pakistanis abroad for training, he laid the foundations of the Muslim world’s first nuclear power reactor KANUPP, which was inaugurated by Munir Ahmed Khan in 1972. Thus, Usmani laid solid groundwork for the civilian nuclear programme.[iii]


On 20 December 1971 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto assumed power in Pakistan. As a first step in the direction of institution of a nuclear weapons programme, Bhutto asked Munir Ahmad Khan, who was working as head of Nuclear Reactor Engineering Division at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, to prepare a report on Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure.[iv]

I.H.Usmani, however, was reluctant to pursue the nuclear weapons programme, as he believed that it was beyond Pakistan’s ability at that time and he had asked Bhutto at the Multan Conference not to divert the nuclear programme to weapons application.[v]

Given Usmani’s reluctance, he in January 1972, was replaced by a 48 year old nuclear engineer, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan, at the Multan Conference of senior scientists, held January 20th, 1972 in the historic city of Multan in the Punjab province. Munir Khan had been with the IAEA since 1958 and was the first Pakistani and one of the first Asian scientists to be on the staff of the IAEA. He had vast international contacts and brought rich managerial and scientific experience with him which was derived from his 14 year long association with the IAEA and he in his capacity as head of Reactor Engineering Division at the IAEA had been involved with the nuclear power programmes of many countries at that time. He had also served as Scientific Secretary of the UN Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy from 1964 to 1971.

It was at this Multan Conference where Bhutto asked the assembled scientists to make the atomic bomb in the shortest possible time. The PAEC would go on to achieve nuclear weapons capability by 1983, under Munir Ahmad Khan . [vi]

The conference was held at the residence of the Punjab Chief Minister Nawab Sadiq Qureshi in Multan. Key invitees included scientists from the Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science & Technology (PINSTECH), the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Government College, Lahore, and the Defence Science & Technology Organization (DESTO). Future Nobel laureate and scientific advisor to the Pakistani government Dr. Abdus Salam also attended the meeting. During the meeting, several scientists enthusiastically supported the idea of a nuclear weapons programme. Bhutto endorsed the idea and promised that his government would spare "no facilities and finances" for a weapons programme.Toward the end of the meeting, Bhutto announced that Munir Ahmad Khan would replace Dr. Usmani as Chairman of the PAEC.[vii]

Therefore, what was lacking for a nuclear weapons programme to begin in Pakistan before 1972 was the lack of strategic vision and committment on the part of the political and scientific leadership. Thus, Prime Minister Z.A.Bhutto's vision and political committment to acquire nuclear weapons capability channeled into reality through the winning combination of Bhutto and Munir Ahmad Khan.[viii]

Munir Ahmad Khan had previously tried unsuccessfully to convince President Ayub Khan that Pakistan must acquire the nuclear option. On his way back to Pakistan, President Ayub Khan held a meeting with Munir Ahmad Khan in London, in December, 1965, which was arranged by Z.A.Bhutto. Apparently, Ayub had just returned from a meeting with President Johnson and rejected Munir Khan's advice that Pakistan must also pursue nuclear capability as India was already embarked on this route. Ayub Khan was of the view that Pakistan did not have the resources to acquire nuclear weapons capability and was not a strategic necessity at that time. When Ayub Khan was told by Munir Ahmed Khan that nuclear technology could eventually place in the hands of Pakistan a nuclear weapons option, Ayub Khan simply smiled and said that if needed, Pakistan could get it from China. Bhutto was pacing up and down in the lobby , waiting outside as Munir was meeting Ayub. When Munir came out, Bhutto asked him what had happened. "The President did not agree" Munir told him. "Do not worry -- our turn will come", Bhutto had said.[ix]

It was only after Bhutto left the Ayub Khan cabinet and held some fateful and important meetings with Munir Ahmad Khan in Vienna in the 1960s that Bhutto decided that Pakistan must have the nuclear capability as India had been making great strides in this field, following which Bhutto was to make the historic remark that "We shall eat grass if necessary but build the atomic bomb" and promised full support to Munir Ahmad Khan in this effort after he would come to power, a promise that he kept to the letter.[x]

Thus the nuclear weapons programme truly began in 1972.


There are two routes to a nuclear bomb which provide the “fissile material” for the nuclear weapon itself. One is the plutonium route, in which plutonium is obtained by reprocessing the spent fuel from nuclear power reactors; the other is the enriched uranium route. At the Multan Conference, it was decided that PAEC would pursue both routes simultaneously to protect the programme from becoming handicapped in the wake of any possible sanctions in the future and to provide a greater flexibility in weapon design.[xi]

The Enriched Uranium and Plutonium are integral to the “Nuclear Fuel Cycle”, both ends of which were mastered single-handedly by PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan.

The success of any nuclear programme depends on many critical, yet interlinked processes and requires trained technical manpower, nuclear facilities, infrastructure, materials, research institutions and testing facilities in addition to nuclear power plants.

To obtain the necessary materials and technologies that were not available inside Pakistan at the time, PAEC had established an elaborate procurement network, under a brilliant physicist-turned diplomat, Mr. Siddique. A. Butt. [xii] Once the required pieces of technology not available in Pakistan were acquired from abroad, many of them had to be reverse engineered and built "in-house", during which Pakistani scientists and engineers learnt the art of developing future generations of machines and technological equipment and plants by themselves. Soon after becoming Chairman PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan had instituted a detailed survey of the materials and technological expertise and industrial potential available inside Pakistan for the nuclear weapons programme, which helped in identifying the needs for procruing critical technologies from abroad.[xiii]


The first step initiated by Munir Ahmad Khan after the 1972 Multan Conference towards the enrichment of uranium was to expand further exploration of uranium deposits and to refine the uranium that had been already discovered in the 1960s. The discovery of uranium and its refinement was a massive, manpower-intensive job. Thousands of tons of uranium ore had to be recovered and dug up from the ground to produce enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. On 27 December 1973 PAEC announced that large uranium deposits had been discovered in southern Punjab province.

A uranium refinement plant was established by PAEC in a series of smaller plants and the Chemical Plant Complex (CPC) was established in Dera Ghazi Khan.

From the CPC, two products are obtained:

1. One is uranium dioxide, which is a metallic powder and which is the input for the Karachi KANUPP reactor. So from the CPC near DG Khan came uranium dioxide to make fuel for the Karachi reactor, which was the peaceful use of uranium and a part of the nuclear fuel cycle.

2. PAEC, from mid 1970s onwards started working for the establishment of a plant for making uranium hexafluoride or UF6 from the same chemical facility, which is the crucial input material for the uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta. UF6 or uranium hexaflouride is also known as the 'Feed' for the Kahuta Enrichment Plant.[xiv] It is this crucial raw marterial which is enriched for use as fuel for nuclear power plants or as fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

In 1974, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission had inquired from the French Atomic Energy Commission whether they would train some of the PAEC scientists in enrichment know-how, including the new laser and ultracentrifuge technoligies.. This was the same time that the PAEC was concluding final negotiations with the French firm Saint-Gobain Techniques Nouvelles (SGN) for the Chashma reprocessing plant. [xv] The French however refused. But the PAEC was not dissuaded and continued its quest for acquiring centrifuge technology.

In developing the Enriched Uranium route to the bomb, the PAEC decided to initiate the Kahuta Enrichment Project, known as “Project-706”, under a nuclear engineer, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmud, as Project Director in 1974, the year that Indian exploded its first nuclear device in Pokhran. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmud was only one among dozens of scientists and engineers (besides) A.Q. Khan who were working in Europe, Canada and the US in late sixties and early seventies in companies and organizations that later became “Consortium Companies” to supply enriched uranium to European nuclear power plants. PAEC brought back dozens of scientists from the US and other European countries to start this programme under Bashiruddin before A.Q. Khan came on board. These scientists were all working on different enrichment techniques and were familiar with the latest enrichment technologies of the time.[xvi]

Moreover, the PAEC was already considering the centrifuge problem before A.Q.Khan came to Pakistan, and there was one experiment in Lahore in the early 1970s involving centrifuges, conducted by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand.[xvii]

As a matter of fact, the enrichment programme of PAEC started in November 1974 when Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood was recalled to Islamabad from Karachi by Munir Ahmad Khan and asked to prepare a feasibility report.

Bashiruddin till then had been working in the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) where he developed a technique to detect leaks in steam pipes and set up a laboratory to manufacture spare parts for the plant. He had read scientific reports of the Manhattan Project during his training at Birmingham University, where he also had an opportunity to discuss enrichment technology with scientists from South Africa, who were then exploring the jet nozzle process of enrichment. After examining gaseous diffusion, gas centrifuge, jet nozzle and laser enrichment processes, Bashiruddin advocated the centrifuge route. He then prepared a report for the development of a centrifuge enrichment plant that envisaged its completion by 1975.

Within days a feasibility report was prepared and a project approval proforma called PC-1 finalised. The project was to begin production in 1979. To maintain secrecy both the feasibility and the PC-1 were handwritten documents. The project proposal was personally hand carried by the PAEC chairman, Munir Ahmad Khan direct to the Prime Minister's hometown of Larkana for his approval. No intermediate offices were involved. Munir Ahmad Khan was driven to the Chaklala Airbase by the project director-designate, Bashiruddin Mahmood, where a special military aircraft was waiting to take him to Larkana. The same evening he returned to Islamabad with the approval of the Prime Minister. Again Munir Ahmad Khan was received at the airport by Bashiruddin Mahmood.[xviii]

Moreover, Munir Ahmed Khan, the PAEC Chairman had a meeting with Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on February 15, 1975. At this meeting, Munir Khan sought the formal approval from the government for a $450 million nuclear weapons programme that involved (a) the building of a centrifuge plant for the enrichment of uranium, (b) the development of a uranium mine at Baghalchor in Dera Ghazi Khan (BC-1), and (c) the inception of a nuclear weapons design programme led by Dr. Riazuddin of the PAEC. He obtained the government’s approval and the uranium enrichment programme was formally launched under the name ‘Directorate of Industrial Liaison’ in the barracks of Chaklala airport under the leadership of the nuclear engineer Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood who, under the direct supervision of Munir Ahmad Khan formed the team that started R & D on uranium enrichment and centrifuge development.[xix]

Munir Ahmad Khan had selected the site for Kahuta Enrichment Plant in January 1975, completed procurement of vital equipment, construction of its civil works, and recruitment of staff by 1976. The PAEC had been searching for suitable sites which conformed to the parameters set out in the PC-1 of the Enrichment Project. On January 12th, 1975, Bashiruddin Mahmood came across the site where KRL is situated today. The site conformed with the parameters set out in the PC-1, especially in terms of defence against air attack as the military geography of the site was most suitable. The same evening, Bashiruddin reported to Munir Ahmad Khan and the next morning he himself drove Munir Khan to the site whereafter the PAEC chairman gave his immediate concurrence to the site identified . The next morning, Lt. Gen. Fazle Muqeem, the Secretary General, Ministry of Defence, Munir Ahmad Khan and Bashiruddin Mahmood flew to the site and Gen. Fazle Muqeem also agreed to the defence suitability of the area. Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar was tasked by Gen. Fazle Muqeem to acquire the land for the site and within a record period of two weeks from the initial identification of the site, the land was acquired and payments made. A Special Works Organization (SWO) of the Pakistan Army was constituted for the construction of the site.

The story told by A.Q. Khan and his followers that he initiated the Kahuta Uranium Enrichment Programme and chose the Kahuta site and that he was the first to bring centrifuge technology to Pakistan which was assumed to be beyond PAEC's reach, is all patently false.

The first centrifuge test bed was successfully "pilot-run" by Bashiruddin's team at the pilot centrifuge plant of about 50 machines in April 1976 in the barracks of Chaklala airport. These centrifuges were based on the Research and Development of the PAEC's prestigious Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology (PINSTECH) in Rawalpindi that had carried out an exploratory centrifuge investigation, and had set up between 10 and 20 centrifuges in a laboratory. PINSTECH's centrifuge effort was based on centrifuge and cascade design information obtained from Italy—not from the Urenco programme.[xx].

A renowned US magazine related to nuclear industry, "Nucleonics Week" quoting declassified Dutch government dossiers related to its investigation of the theft of Urenco centrifuge design information by A.Q. Khan, while confirming the presence of Italian centrifuge cascade designs in Pakistan in 1975-76 recently said that it would have been possible for Pakistan to have obtained a centrifuge design know-how from a pilot centrifuge development programme in Italy at that time, which was centered on work carried out by Italian industry and government-sponsored laboratories.

Western officials said that Italy began centrifuge research and development in 1969 and by 1973 had done some separation work using a relatively simple, so-called Zippe-type centrifuge. This type was pioneered after World War II by the German engineer Gernot Zippe and provided the engineering and physics bases for both Italian and Urenco machines.[xxi]

By carrying out R & D on, and pilot testing the Italian centrifuge designs at the pilot-scale plants at Sihala and Chaklala, the PAEC scientists and engineers gained extensive understanding and experience regarding the difficult aspects of "process engineering" of centrifuges and all future centrifuge development undertaken by Pakistan was essentially built and improved on the early experiences of these pilot centrifuge test beds established under the PAEC Project-706 in 1975-76. It was this valuable experience of building centrifuges on a pilot and test scale that future production scale centrifuges were indigenously developed at Kahuta.

This also explains why the PAEC was also focusing on the development of a uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) production plant near D.G. Khan in the 1970s, to provide the "Feed" in sufficient quantities of UF6 to the gas-centrifuges in Kahuta. This plant was to have a yearly productin capacity of 200 MT of UF6. Another of PAEC's nuclear fuel cycle facilities consists of the Uranium milling site, which can produce up to 30 MT per year of U3O8 (yellowcake), located in Dera Ghazi Khan.[xxii]

Meanwhile, A.Q. Khan had written a letter to chairman of the PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan in late 1974, and offered his services. Bashiruddin Mahmood, the project incharge of the PAEC's "Project -706", was sent by Munir Ahmad Khan to interview A.Q. Khan, whereafter A.Q. Khan became associated with the PAEC. By the time A.Q. Khan joined the PAEC, the uranium enrichment programme was well under way and KRL, then known as Engineering Research Laboratories, had been fully established alongwith the pilot centrifuge plant at Sihala. A.Q. Khan had been briefed by Bashiruddin on what PAEC had been doing and what they were planning to do and therefore it was an ideal and perfect time for him to jump in and make a place for himself in the programme.

What Qadeer did bring to Pakistan were drawings of first generation Urenco centrifuge designs, as he was hired by the Dutch firm, Fysscish Dynamisch Onderzoek or FDO also known as Physical Dynamics Laboratory, which was a sub-contractor to the Urenco Consortium, and was tasked to examine the causes of failure of mechanical parts of the Urenco programme. A.Q. Khan was working as a translator-cum-metallurgist for FDO, but despite his Urecnco designs, it still took real work, lots of wide ranging technical expertise, trained manpower, R&D facilities and much more to build on these and advanced generation of centrifuges which enabled Pakistan to successfully enrich uranium, and all this A.Q. Khan simply could not have done alone, for which he continued to rely on critical PAEC help and technical support. The British-Dutch-West German Urenco Consortium, however, was established exclusively for producing low enriched uranium (LEU) through centrifuges for commercial and industrial purposes, not for producing Highly Enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons.

The PAEC and KRL collectively, or A.Q.Khan individually could not promise any time frame to Bhutto to achieve any of their goals. It was always that they would do their best. There never were any guarantees either from KRL or from PAEC. Every time A.Q. Khan was in trouble in meeting many of his unrealistic goals and promises, PAEC/PINSTECH came to his rescue. Moreover, PAEC was not dependent solely on the drawings that A.Q. Khan brought from Urenco. Having started the enrichment programme before Qadeer arrived in Pakistan, the PAEC had established an elaborate supplier's network with the brilliant S.A. Butt in charge of procurement, who had opened up other options for the enrichment programme. S.A. Butt had been posted in the Pakistani Embassy of Brussels in July, 1975 and made in charge of buying the necessary tools, parts and materials (mostly special steel and aluminium and much more) in Europe.

Before sanctions were placed on Pakistan, the PAEC had acquired sufficient technological know how, materials and equipment and understanding of the critical technologies involved in the development of a sustainable and viable nuclear programme, which enabled PAEC to develop the same technologies and expetise indigenously once sanctions were placed on Pakistan, especially after President Carter forced France to cancel the reprocessing contract and all doors to western nuclear technology had been shut on Pakistan. Therefore procuring the critical technologies and equipment was just the first step in acquiring eventual self sufficiency in all fields of nuclear science and technology. PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad Khan had told Bashiruddin Mahmood shortly after the Indian nuclear test of 1974 that they had only a few years before the doors of nuclear technology would begin to close on Pakistan. Therefore, they had to get hold of whatever they could in these few years. To this end, S.A. Butt would do a superb job.

An important point related to procurement of critical equipment and technology is that many European and other companies related to nuclear industry were willing to enter and fulfill commercial deals with PAEC in the 1970s and 80s because a large majority of the materials and equipment were essentially ”dual use” items, which also had applications in civil industry and were not specifically on any export control or ban list, at least at that time.

Even before A.Q. Khan had left the Netherlands, the PAEC on its own had begun approaching companies in Europe with lists of components needed for Pakistan's Centrifuge Project. One such company that was particularly eager to make a profit was Van Doorne's Transmissie (VDT) in Tilburg. In the late 1970’s VDT worked on a deal to supply 6,500 maraging steel tubes for the centrifuges, ordered by S.A. Butt. Within the company the order was commonly known as the 'Pakistan pipeline'. The tubes were exported between 2 November 1976 and 10 September 1979. [xxiii]

Even before this, Bashiruddin Mahmood had also acquired large quantities of maraging steel from West Germany in 1975.

The PAEC's main procurement agent in Europe, Mr. S.A. Butt had been successful in procuring vital equipment, critical to enrichment technology such as mass spectrometers used in measuring the levels of enrichment, balancing rotors critical in balancing the centrifuges, high-frequency inverters used to regulate the supply of power to the centrifuges and high vacuum valves and gassification and solidification units needed to feed the uranium hexaflouride gas (UF6) into the centrifuges, and then to transform it back into a solid at the end of the centrifuge process, for the Kahuta Enrichment Project.[xxiv]

S.A.Butt had also begun inquriring about frequency inverters in Holland in August 1975. The Swiss firm Vakuum Apparat Technik or VAT was approached in 1976 which was a widely known manufacturer of highly specialized valves used in centrifuges and industry and VAT was happy to oblige.[xxv]

The next stop for S.A. Butt was the Swiss firm called CORA Engineering. The main equipment to be procured from this firm was a major component for the enrichment programme - a gassificiation and solidification unit needed to feed the uranium hexaflouride gas into the centrifuges, and then to transform it back into a solid at the end of the centrifuge process. This piece of equipment was crucial for enriching the uranium hexaflouride through the centrifuges, without which the centrifuges would never work. Elaborately designed and carefully engineered, the gassification and solidification unit was one of the largest single components of the enrichment programme that the PAEC procured in Europe, and it took three specially chartered C-130 Hercules transport planes to fly the completed plant to Pakistan.[xxvi]

In 1977, S.A. Butt approached a well known firm in northern France and arranged to buy as many as 10,000 bellows for the ultracentrifuges. Although French customs forbade their sale, the firm managed to send part of the order through a firm in Belgium, alongwith the dies that enabled the PAEC to make the rest for themseleves.[xxvii]

Also in 1977, S.A. Butt placed an order for high frequency inverters to a British subsidiary,Weargate, of the giant American firm, Emerson Electric. The first shipment reached Pakistan in August 1978. Two additional orders were also placed with Emerson in Britain, including one for about sixty high-frequency inverters, which were shipped to Pakistan. The British firms were not overly concerned because they were convinced that the Pakistanis would never know how to operate such sophisticated equipment, and that the inverters would all sit in their packing cases until they rusted away. This was the attitude until a few days after the first shipment reached Pakistan, when Emerson received a telex requesting a long list of extremely complex modifications. This meant that another Anglo-Saxon prejudice about Pakistani "incompetence" went down the drain.[xxviii]

Also, in July 1980, following earlier successful shipments of frequency inverters from Europe, two officials of the PAEC, Anwar Ali and I.A. Bhatti managed to get several shipments of frequency inverters and transformers to Pakistan.[xxix]

Some rare expertise such as spectrometry, chromatography and highly advanced nuclear instrumentation and measurement technology paramount in enrichment work, was again the feat accomplished by PAEC's scientists and engineers working on the enrichment project, and later KRL scientists and engineers who had originally come from PAEC, worked closely in technical areas with PAEC/PINSTECH experts. A.Q. Khan's successor at KRL, Dr. Javed Arshad Mirza was also transferred from PINSTECH to KRL along with hundreds of scientists and engineers when the PAEC under Bashiruddin Mahmood had initiated work on the Kahuta Enrichment Project, code named Project-706.

The PAEC through its excellent procurement network in Europe was also able to procure other critical pieces of the uranium enrichment puzzle, the special pipes and supersolid steel or maraging steel used in the development of centrifuges, from Singen and Saarbruecken, the mass spectrometers and magnets from Bremen and Bonn, all in West Germany. The mass spectrometers were also a critical element in the enrichment programme because without mass spectrometers, it would have been impossible to measure the levels of enrichment achieved.

The German newspaper Der Speigel reported in 1989 that " There is no doubt that Munir Ahmed Khan, chief of the Pakistan Nuclear Authority, with whom Finke already had a cup of tea, has secretly developed his country into a nuclear power; the bomb puzzle is complete. He had many individual parts--ranging from transformer sheets to uranium conversion--supplied by small West German firms, using a network of agents to this end. The special pipes and supersolid (maraging) steel from Singen and Saarbruecken, the mass spectrometers and magnets from Bremen and Bonn were made-to-measure for Khan's programme which is carried out in a number of nuclear centers".[xxx] Finke was the head of the German firm NTG that helped PAEC develop tritium purification and recovery processes. Tritium is used to boost fission warheads and develop Hydrogen bombs.

It is imperative to understand that A.Q. Khan's blueprints were based on first generation enrichment technology originally developed by the Urenco Consortium in the late sixties and early seventies whose SWU (unit of the measurement to separate U-238 and U-235 in natural uranium in order to create final product that is richer in U-235 atoms) was so low that thousands of centrifuge machines would have to be deployed for thousands of hours at performance levels much inferior to the then installed centrifuges at Urenco. In these first-generation centrifuges, the rotors were made of aluminum and the bearings were not frictionless. Hence they were relatively low-efficiency machines - incapable of operating at high velocities - which translates into many more centrifuges being required in the cascade, thousands of them.

The PAEC (under Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan) challenged the economic and technical viability of the drawings and blueprints that A.Q. Khan brought from Holland, and presented a programme that would employ the most efficient technology by setting up an infrastructure for advanced machine design for the next generation centrifuges and in the two decades that followed, spent huge sums of money for developing centrifuge technology and its support infrastructure. PAEC used “proven technology” with heavy emphasis on R&D, with much higher SWU, while reducing costs and improving efficiency through the use of state-of-the-art materials, control systems and manufacturing processes. [xxxi]

PAEC enabled KRL to take advantage of commercial advances in construction materials (thanks to PAEC/PINSTECH’s scientists) and advanced manufacturing methods to develop centrifuge machines that achieved several times the SWU performance previously demonstrated by early KRL machines, but at substantially reduced cost.

KRL under A.Q. Khan's control never built an explosive atomic device for Pakistan, but it did build lots of centrifuges, under active PAEC guidance and technical support, and centrifuge is purely a mechanical device. The PAEC provided technical assistance and guidance in all-important areas of enrichment (and much more) to KRL, as centrifuge was the “vehicle” to the enrichment process. The PAEC played an important role in uranium enrichment from the very beginning, and thus their know-how became increasingly important in the overall programme. Without PAEC scientist's and engineer's active participation and involvement, KRL's abilities probably would not have grown beyond an advanced machine design shop. [xxxii]

The PAEC had begun work on producing indigenous nuclear fuel for civilian applications like KANUPP, before KRL was established. Without PAEC/ PINSTECH active guidance and participation, KRL centrifuges (in all likelihood) would only have produced low-enriched uranium (having less than 5 % of U-235) and not the highly enriched material (90 % and above) needed for atomic weapons.

Therefore, PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan began the Pakistani Uranium Enrichment programme in 1974 under several covert programmes, including one based on Italian centrifuge designs and another based (Urenco early model) that got the most publicity in the West. Other parallel programmes that the PAEC started were based on better design parameters than the early Urenco model, to achieve super-critical operating speeds that would provide PAEC with a wide base of advanced engineering (machine design) experience on which they helped KRL develop future advanced generation of centrifuges.

This approach caused a major friction with KRL, (which AQ Khan has time and again portrayed as PAEC’s bureaucratic red-tapism against him), but forced KRL to shift its strategy from smuggling machines (not a reliable option) to R&D. KRL had envisioned that future generations of machines would be developed through reverse engineering or they would make thousands of first generation machines, clearly a Russian approach wasting precious resources with limited chances of success. KRL eventually was forced to undertake a long-term programme to develop significantly faster centrifuges through R&D under PAEC/PINSTECH guidance. In either case, all PAEC projects were evaluated from an economic point of view to ensure that lifetime cost improvements actually paid back the money committed to undertake the research and from a technical point of view to ensure that improvements were introduced as early as possible within the manufacturing phase as part of the future generation. The centrifuge essentially is a highly specialized mechanical component and is one link in the long chain of enrichment technology. As A.Q. Khan stumbled on many occasions, he received vital technical support from PINSTECH and PAEC infrastructure and scientists. [xxxiii]

Another very important element of the ‘gas centrifuge’ technology used in enriching uranium at KRL is the crucial raw material for enrichment, known as Uranium Hexaflouride gas, or UF6.

From the start of the enrichment project, the availability of the ‘hex’ plant was critical to the success or failure of the entire project, and as crucial as the centrifuges themselves. Without a hex plant, Kahuta would never work, except perhaps as a test facility, wholly dependent on outside supplies of uranium hexafluoride, whose import was impossible from abroad. [xxxiv] At the PAEC's Dera-Ghazi-Khan plant, natural uranium is pulverized and converted into uranium hexafluoride.

This technology was as sophisticated and challenging as the centrifuge plant itself. Parallel with development and construction of the Kahuta enrichment plant, the PAEC set about with the construction of uranium hexaflourdie plant, and procurement of materials for it, aimed at the production of sufficiently large quantities of hexafluoride gas that would enable KRL to enrich uranium to weapon grade. This enabled PAEC to supply KRL with sufficient amounts of UF6 for enrichment. Dr. Aminuddin of PAEC played the leading role in the successful production of sufficient quantities of UF6.

Moreover, it is important to understand what it takes (in lay man’s terms) in the engineering of centrifuges which scientists and engineers across the world consider to be the marvels of engineering. Technologically speaking, the whole idea of building “production centrifuges” in mid 1970s was well out of reach of imagination of any organization in Pakistan. Outside of PAEC and PINSTECH, Pakistan's industrial facilities seriously lacked the level of expertise or infrastructure required for many of the parts that had to be produced As early as 1974, Bashiruddin’s team had successfully experimented and completed "proof of concept studies" of first uranium separation in PAEC labs. There is a huge difference in getting parts from the international black market and making them in a country like Pakistan. The esoteric description of the difficulties Pakistan faced in terms of the technology and many intriguing issues involved such as producing highly complex machining of parts to nanometer tolerance, expert knowledge in handling specialized materials like cutting, electron beam welding of light weight metal called maraging steel used in design of rotors and shopping for maraging steel to begin producing materials for continuous supply of future generation centrifuges was difficult, if not impossible. The closest PAEC was in expertise was commissioning of KANUPP and the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor (PARR-1) while A.Q. Khan had nothing comparable.

There is no magic wand to learn the complex centrifuge technology. It only takes specially trained scientists and engineers to master the science of extremely low temperature required to produce uranium hexafluoride and handle the flow of Uranium and uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) through cascades of gas centrifuges. The possibility of a nuclear accident, if the systems burst for any reason resulting in the UF6 leak, can be devastating.

Again there could not be any short cut even with what A.Q. Khan brought from Urenco as the scientists and engineers had to learn and master the science of rotor dynamics and centrifuges. Because the UF6 was produced by PAEC after which it was handed over to KRL for enrichment, PAEC scientists and engineers had to give crucial technical support and input to KRL on how to handle the UF6 and other associated problems. UF6 being highly corrosive in nature requires well trained manpower which the PAEC could only provide as it was producing large quantities of the same at its plant at D.G. Khan.

PAEC also suggested producing centrifuge designs into several subcomponents and then individually producing some components outside so it would be hard to recognize if these were components of centrifuges, thus ensuring secrecy.

Mastering the nuclear fuel cycle is one of many scintillating achievements of PAEC without which A.Q. Khan’s blueprints would be useless, unless Pakistan planned to steal spent fuel from KANUPP on a regular basis which under the watchful eyes of IAEA was impossible at that time, if not much later as the PAEC was determined to break the discriminatory international safeguards and sanctions imposed on Pakistan.

The technology Qadeer brought would have eventually been acquired. The PAEC needed to develop nuclear fuel to feed the KANUPP plant especially after Canada had put a halt on the delivery of fuel and spare parts in the wake of the Indian test in 1974.The work had been started on Nuclear Fuel Cycle to make fuel for KANUPP and future nuclear plants two years prior to Qadeer’s arrival in Pakistan. Under Munir Ahmed Khan, the PAEC started an ambitious programme to master the technology of complete nuclear fuel cycle in which “Heavy Water” was one of the most important components. Heavy Water, also used for producing plutonium, was prohibitively expensive and without which Pakistan’s only nuclear power plant would die and the whole nuclear power programme would come crashing down in the late 1970s. In 1996, Dr. N A Javed, a key member of Munir's team at the PAEC, was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz for making Pakistan self sufficient in the production of “Heavy water”. [xxxv] The PAEC's heavy water production faciltiy has a 13 MT per year capacity. A heavy water upgradation plant with a 15 MT per year capacity was also established at the site of KANUPP by PAEC as it is a pressurized heavy water reactor.[xxxvi]

There is no doubt that the PAEC originated both the enrichment and plutonium reprocessing programmes. Munir Ahmed Khan and his team believed and worked tirelessly in building the infrastructure that would fabricate nuclear fuel for Pakistan’s nuclear plants and would be a springboard for A.Q Khan’s fame. Munir Khan's team mastered the nuclear fuel cycle’s crucial steps, namely:

1) Mining (uranium ore mining from mines),

2) Milling (uranium ore into yellow cake),

3) Conversion (yellow cake into UF6 or hexafluoride) for enrichment, without which the enrichment would have been impossible for which PAEC laid solid ground work very early on, and
4) Enrichment itself, a step in increasing the concentration of U-235 isotopes from its natural level (0.5-.7%) to 5% level (fuel used in nuclear plants) which was started by PAEC, along with R&D on enriching uranium to 90% and above which is used for nuclear weapons,
5) Fuel fabrication – the process of converting the enriched uranium (enriched UF6) into uranium dioxide, sealing it into metal fuel rods and bundling into fuel assembly to be used as nuclear fuel in nuclear power plants to generate electricity, and lastly,
6) Reprocessing- Spent fuel from a nuclear power reactor is reprocessed in a reprocessing plant and plutonium is obtained as a result which can be used as fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Without acquiring complete mastery over the above steps comprising the “nuclear fuel cycle”, enrichment of uranium would not have been possible, for which Munir Ahmad Khan and his team laid solid groundwork and successfully mastered this technology. Thus, had the nuclear fuel cycle not been mastered, A.Q. Khan would never have been able to claim that he enriched uranium all by himself, which was actually the feat of the PAEC's scientists along with hundreds of KRL scientists working under PAEC's technical and scientific support.

The extensive programme undertaken by the PAEC on the nuclear fuel cycle is the back bone of the nuclear technology in Pakistan and the basic R & D, leading to pilot plants and later adopted on factory scale, was done at the two research centres, the Atomic Energy Mineral Centre in Lahore and the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) in Islamabad which has also acted as a supplier of high quality human resource to almost all the main civil and nuclear defense projects in Pakistan.While the PAEC acquired full mastery over the “front-end” of the nuclear fuel cycle it acquired a reliable capability on the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and that involves the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technology. The nuclear programme of Pakistan therefore acquired a reliable indigenous capability which was largely acquired as a necessity in view of the restrictions and embargoes imposed by the advanced countries.[xxxvii]

Despite all the fame and his exaggerated importance in Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear weapons, Qadeer was never in charge of the actual development of nuclear weapons themselves. Our general public did not know any better, they just assumed he was a nuclear scientist, which he was not, having specialized in physical/copper metallurgy. Enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons development and testing was carried out solely by the PAEC. If it were not for PAEC, Pakistan would have failed miserably in her efforts to master gas centrifuge technology because smuggling would eventually lead Pakistan to a dead end.

During the sixteen days that A.Q. Khan spent at Almelo, during which he is said to have copied classified drawings of first generation centrifuges, he could not have possibly understood the complex centrifuge technology in such a short span of time, let alone replicate and establish a whole centrifuge plant on his own in Pakistan. This fact was attested by his lawyer S.M. Zafar in defence of his case against the Dutch government after A.Q. Khan defected from Urenco. He quotes in his book "In the Dutch parliament the ministers related to the issue testified that if one impartially analyses the average time spent by Dr. Khan at Almelo and the nature and extent of the work he did during that time, he can easily conclude that Dr. Khan could not possibly have any spare time to even chat with someone. In their opinion, Dr. Khan couldn’t possibly understand the technology during the sixteen days he spent at Almelo and even then he could only go in or out of the factory at prescribed hours.".[xxxviii]

KRL was under the supervision of PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad Khan right from the start.[xxxix] It only got separated later when it had been finally completed and A Q Khan made in charge. According to Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Dr. A.Q.Khan had been made fully incharge of the Kahuta Enrichment Project in the fall of 1980 when the plant had become fully operational.[xl]

Some of A.Q. Khan's supporters were powerful individuals who had engineered KRL's administrative separation from PAEC, in order to try to take control of whatever part of the programme they could, for a variety of reasons. But the recent implication of A.Q. Khan in the proliferation activities has proven that KRL's separation from PAEC was a big mistake, which allowed individuals with vested interests to make fortunes, and this had become an important consideration for them to continue to give their full support to A.Q. Khan. The dynamics behind the administrative separation of KRL from PAEC were driven by personal ambitions of A.Q. Khan. Munir Ahmed Khan and those working on the enrichment project refused to entertain any individuals who were not meeting the merit criteria for selection (who might have been on the wish list of A.Q.Khan). Because of this A.Q. Khan accused Munir Khan of red tapism and creating ”hurdles” in the programme .Obtaining an unaccountable blank cheque on spending was another important ambition which was on the top of A.Q. Khan's ambitious wish list. But he needed to create the environment which would have made the fulfillment of his ambitions easier, in which he proved to be successful.

The first step in this direction taken by A.Q. Khan was that when he joined the enrichment project to work under Bashiruddin in 1976, he accused the latter of procuring sub-standard maraging steel for centrifuges. Bashiruddin was then suspended and an inquiry commission, composed of the then Foreign Minister Aziz Ahmad and the ISI Director General, Lt. General Jilani, was asked to investigate the charge. The material was sent to a foreign laboratory, recommended by A.Q. Khan, for testing. The commission, however, found that the imported material was of the right quality and Bashiruddin was exonerated.[xli] This should have been enough for those at the helms of power at the time to see the writing on the wall, as his high profile and much publicised defection from Urenco had become a major media issue in Europe. Therefore, he could not be seen to have been disowned by Pakistan.

When this failed, he accused some of the most important scientists and engineers working on the enrichment project to be Qadianis, which included the PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan, Project Incharge of KRL, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, and Dr. Riazuddin, Member (Technical), PAEC. This was a move on the part of A.Q. Khan against the PAEC leadership which was clearly aimed at their character assasination and mudslinging, as Qadianis had been declared non-muslims by the National Assembly only a few years prior to A.Q. Khan's arrival in Pakistan, and it was clear that no such individual could ever hold any position in the nuclear programme, whether in the enrichment project or any other part of the programme. But the fact was that not a single scientist or engineer accused by A.Q. Khan was a Qadiani. Bhutto knew that Munir Khan and all the others working on the enrichment project, including Bashiruddin Mahmood and Dr. Riazuddin were not Qadianis, and he told Munir not to bother as he had known him since the 1960s and reposed his full confidence in him and continued to retain him as PAEC chairman. General Zia too retained each of these gifted scientists and engineers, knowing very well that they were patriotic muslims and was well aware of their professional abilities. Bashiruddin would go on to design and develop the Khushab plutoium reactor, Dr. Riazuddin played a key role in developing and designing the first generation of nuclear weapons for Pakistan and Munir Ahmed Khan during his 19 long years as chairman of the PAEC, against all odds placed Pakistan on the nuclear map of the world. But Munir Ahmed Khan continued to be accused of being unpatriotic and a failed scientist in the dock of A.Q. Khan's paid writers in the decades that were to follow this sordid plot.

Then in April 1976 A.Q. Khan addressed a letter to the chairman PAEC, Munir Ahmed Khan, expressing his supposed impatience with the slow pace of the centrifuge-based uranium enrichment project. A few days later, he wrote a similar letter to Prime Minister Bhutto threatening to resign his position if he was not given formal charge of the uranium enrichment project. In response, Bhutto appointed a committee comprising of A.G.N. Kazi (Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission), Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Defense Secretary), and Agha Shahi (Foreign Secretary) to resolve the matter. The committee ruled in favour of giving A.Q. Khan formal charge over KRL which he took over on July 17, 1976 from Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood.[xlii] A.Q. Khan would repay Ghulam Ishaq Khan for his support by not only supervising the GIK Institute of Science and Technology Project established in the 1990s but also financing it by arranging a sum of Rs.1500 million [xliii]. Alongwith securing full administrative autonomy for himself, A.Q. Khan also managed to get an audit-free budget for KRL, which was used in the later years to further his interests.

After Z.A. Bhutto was hanged and General Zia imposed Martial Law, A.Q. Khan slowly began to build his power base in Pakistan. One reason for this was political. Zia knew that Munir Ahmed Khan was an old and close friend of Bhutto who did not hide his admiration for Bhutto. Zia also knew that A.Q. Khan was an easy ally for consolidating his power in front of the masses as he was willing to be an enthusiastic spokesman for glorifying the nuclear programme for political ends of the rulers in addition to Islam, a role which Munir Khan did not believe in playing. In this context Zia also encouraged A.Q. Khan in building up his image and myth as the man behind the nuclear programme and in July 1981, named KRL after A.Q. Khan. But Zia also knew A.Q. Khan's technical worth and retained Munir as chairman of the PAEC. So in Munir, Zia had a man who would continue to run the nuclear programme, and in Qadeer, Zia found a man who was willing to fulfill his desire of identifying the nuclear programme with the regime in power at the time. That is also why A.Q. Khan, who through excessive media spotlight had earned the fabricated role of personifying the nuclear programme, came to be known as the ”political scientist” in Pakistan’s nuclear scientific community, as he was willing to enthusiastically identify himself with the government in power at a particular time. Such politics was used by A.Q. Khan to consolidate himself over the years but this was something that Munir Ahmed Khan and his team at PAEC did not believe scientists should be indulging in.

Munir Ahmed Khan and his team however did not want the enrichment project to become the victim of any clash of personal will or ego, therefore, they quietly went along with the decision to give A.Q. Khan autonomy of KRL, as he would still have to depend on PAEC in all technical areas of the enrichment project, such as designing and developing advanced centrifuges and associated engineering problems, trained manpower and technical expertise and a constant supply and handling of uranium hexaflouride gas and much more.

But the recent proliferation events regarding the A.Q. Khan proliferation network have revealed that the separation of KRL from PAEC was a big mistake. While the PAEC had a full time Member (Finance) and Munir Ahmed Khan had established very strict financial and material controls in PAEC, A.Q. Khan was free to run KRL as he chose. This was acutely realized by Munir Ahmed Khan himself, who confided in Dr. Samar Mubarikmand, Chairman National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) in 1999, a few weeks prior to his death. Samar was Member (Technical) PAEC at that time and had successfully headed the team that conducted the May 1998 tests at Chaghi. According to Samar, Munir Khan said that he had made a mistake all his life by keeping a very low profile, which gave A.Q. Khan a field day and enabled him to hijack the whole credit from PAEC. Munir told him that it was the responsibility of the PAEC scientists and engineers, the "technical" people, to put a halt to A.Q. Khan's megalomania, which had cost the national interest and the nuclear programme dearly.

04-13-2010, 10:39 PM


Highly Enriched Uranium is one route to nuclear weapons. The other route and more popular route is that of “plutonium”, which is used by all other nations to make nuclear weapons, such as India, Israel, China, Russia, United States, France and the United Kingdom, because plutonium bombs are smaller in size, but greater in explosive power or yield as compared to uranium bombs. Moreover they are more easily delivered and can be easily adapted as tactical nuclear weapons or for battlefield use, and being smaller in size and greater in yield, they can be easily fitted on to aircraft, missiles, or artillery shells.

Together with Dr. Abdus Salam, Munir Ahmad Khan had the privilege of preparing a proposal for the establishment of nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Pakistan in late 1960's. Ayub Khan deferred the matter on economic grounds. Thus Pakistan lost a golden opportunity for acquiring this important technology when it was readily available to Pakistan without safeguards and at a nominal cost more than thirty years ago.[xliv]

There is a popular myth and allegation leveled against PAEC and Munir Khan that they failed at the plutonium route. Yet, contrary to popular perception, Pakistan did not forego the plutonium route to the bomb, and pursued it along with the uranium route, which is a testimony to Munir Khan's vision, as this route was the "next step" towards a thermonuclear capability.

The centerpiece of the PAEC weapon’s programme in the early 1970s was the effort to acquire a reprocessing plant to separate plutonium from the fuel of KANUPP and future nuclear power plants envisioned by the PAEC. The technology for KANUPP was the same natural uranium/heavy water technology used in the Indian Cirus and later Dhruva reactors used by India for producing weapons plutonium, therefore pursuing the plutonium route was the "logical" option given Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure at that time. KANUPP was a Heavy Water natural uranium reactor which could be refueled continuously, without any need to shut down the reactor, which would make it more difficult for outside observers to know how much fuel was used, thus enabling spent fuel to be diverted to military applications for reprocessing, if the need arose. KANUPP was under the IAEA safeguards, but Munir Ahmad Khan was not unduly concerned, as he himself had spent 14 years at the IAEA.

For the first few years of its operation KANUPP used Canadian fuel, which had come under IAEA safeguards before it left Canada. The IAEA therefore knew at that time precisely how much uranium was being shipped from Canada to be loaded into KANUPP. However, after Canada broke off supply of nuclear fuel in 1976, PAEC was able to provide its own fuel and, unless additional safeguards measures were applied, the IAEA would not be able independently to verify — to know with a reasonable degree of assurance — how much fuel was being loaded into and irradiated in KANUPP. Pakistan objected, however, to the additional safeguards measures proposed by the IAEA on the grounds that they were not foreseen in the safeguards agreement covering the KANUPP reactor. In his statement to the Board concerning Pakistan’s unwillingness to accept additional safeguards, the Director General of IAEA stressed that he was not reporting a breach of a safeguards agreement. Nonetheless, his report caused a stir and brought pressure on Islamabad, and on India where a similar problem had arisen. In due course both governments reached agreements with the IAEA Secretariat on additional safeguards and in June 1982, nine months after the Director General had first raised the matter in the Board, he was able to inform the Board that: “In these two cases there has been significant progress since the end of 1982 and the technical safeguards measures implemented at the plants in question now enable the Agency once more to perform effective verification.” [xlv] But by 1981, the PAEC had been successful in completing the "pilot" reprocessing plant at New Labs in PINSTECH and shortly after 1982 when the additional safeguards were put in place, the PAEC began work on the Khushab Heavy water plutonium and tritium production reactor in 1985.

The basic idea behind the reprocessing contract with France was to acquire technology from where ever it was available, and then to replicate and build indigenous power plants and nuclear facilities, as was done by PAEC in the case of "New Labs" and "Khushab".

"New Labs and Khushab- From Nuclear to Thermonuclear"

It is pertinent to mention here that in the late 1960s, Pakistan had contracted with both British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) and Belgonucléaire to prepare studies and designs for pilot plutonium separation facilities. The BNFL design was supposed to be capable of separating up 360 g of fuel a year. The plans for this plant were completed by 1971. The first step after Multan was to build a pilot reprocessing facility called the "New Labs" at PINSTECH. This facility was a larger and more ambitious project than the original BNFL plan. [xlvi]

It was to be built in the early 70s by Belgonucléaire and the French corporation SGN, but following the French cancellation of the reprocessing contract, the PAEC went on to complete the pilot reprocessing plant by 1981 on its own, known as the "New Labs" in PINSTECH.

The pilot reprocessing plant contract was followed by a contract signed with SGN of France in March 1973 to prepare the basic design for a large scale reprocessing plant, one with a capacity of 100 tons of fuel per year, considerably more than KANUPP would generate. The Chashma plant, as it was known, would have the capability to reprocess 100 tons of used reactor fuel and produce about 800 kg of weapons grade plutonium a year, if sufficient fuel were available to feed it. It would have provided Pakistan with the ability to “break safeguards” and quickly process accumulated fuel from KANUPP and other future nuclear power plants, when it decided to openly declare itself a nuclear-armed state. The final detailed design and construction contract was signed on 18 October 1974, which followed the initial design contract. The original contract for this project did not include significant safeguards to discourage diversion of the separated plutonium, or controls on the technology.[xlvii]

In March 1973 a team of three PAEC nuclear scientists and engineers comprising of Khalil Qureshi, Zafarullah and Abdul Majid were sent to the headquarters of Belgonucleaire at Mol to participate in the designing of a pilot nuclear fuel reprocessing facility as well as gain training in reprocessing spent fuel. Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Munir Ahmed Khan favored the Belgian pilot reprocessing plant over the British facility on grounds that it would be difficult for Pakistan to upgrade the downgraded reprocessing plant on offer from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA).[xlviii]

The French government, under American influence began to show increased concern about the Chashma plant during 1976. A safeguards agreement for France brought the plant before the IAEA in February 1976, which was approved on 18 March and signed by Pakistan. This at least ensured that the plant would have monitoring so that diversion to military purposes could not be made. Despite Bhutto’s overthrow in 1977 by General Zia, the latter continued the project unabated, and continued to press the French to fulfill the Chashma contract. But France had begun gradually turning against the reprocessing plant. Despite the French backstabbing of the reprocessing contract, PAEC went on to develop its own plutonium reactor at Khushab in the mid-1980s, and it was a totally indigenous project. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood designed the Khushab Reactor, and in technical terms, the PAEC plutonium programme is more significant than the enrichment project for Pakistan in the long run, as this project gave Pakistan the capability to produce indigenous plutonium and tritium which is used in developing advanced fission devices and is the basis of a thermonuclear capability. The Khushab reactor also produces tritium, which the PAEC had attempted to produce by irradiating lithium. By 1987, the PAEC was able to acquire from West Germany parts for a tritium purification facility. Later, Pakistan attempted to procure from Germany 30 tons of aluminum tubing, used to "clad lithium for irradiation in a reactor."[xlix]

This was also part of the PAEC effort to acquire complete mastery over the ‘nuclear fuel cycle’. The PAEC also went on to complete its indigenous 'pilot' reprocessing plant by 1981, called the "New Labs" at PINSTECH, which gave Pakistan the capability to reprocess enough plutonium for at least one nuclear weapon a year. "New Labs" is an experimental, pilot-scale plutonium reprocessing plant that has the capability to reprocess 10-20 kg of plutonium each year, work on which had begun in 1976. "Cold" tests were conducted at New Labs as early as 1982, and in 1987 West German sources claimed that the facility previously conducted "hot" tests.[l]

A very important point needs to be kept in mind regarding the timing of the initiation of the Kahuta Enrichment Project, A.Q. Khan’s arrival in Pakistan, and the cancellation of the French Plutonium Reprocessing Contract. The fact is that the Kahuta Enrichment Project was started in 1974. The Reprocessing contract was signed as two separate agreements, one in March 1973, for a “basic design”, the other for “detailed design” and actual construction in October 1974. It was begun along with the KRL project by PAEC, and was cancelled only in August 1978, where as A. Q. Khan arrived in Pakistan to work under Bashiruddin Mahmud at KRL/ERL in 1976, which is two years before the French cancelled the reprocessing contract. This clearly exposes the inaccuracy of the impression that his arrival in Pakistan was because the PAEC had failed in the plutonium route to the bomb, in the wake of the French cancellation of the reprocessing plant contract with PAEC. The PAEC had obtained almost all the detailed designs and drawings for the Chashma Reprocessing plant from the French firm SGN, before the contract was cancelled, and it went on to develop its own plant indigenously, at Khushab.[li] Khushab was finally commissioned in 1998.

A critical element in the manufacture of boosted fission devices and thermonuclear or Hydrogen bombs is tritium. In 1985, Germany licensed for export to PAEC a tritium plant by the firm NTG Nukleartechnik GmbH (NTG), preferring to call it a ’heavy water purifier’ instead of -- as the U.S. preferred -- a ’tritium recovery facility’ in the interests of complying with German regulations on sensitive nuclear exports. While heavy water purification technology was not subject to export controls in Germany at that time, technology for the recovery of tritium was controlled. The PAEC was also able to procure from NTG in 1987, a tritium gas storage and purification plant.

In order to obtain significant amounts of weapons grade tritium gas, the PAEC needed to irradiate lithium-6 targets, perhaps in an unsafeguarded research reactor. The plant provided by NTG was capable of purifying this tritium gas to 98%. In amounts of about 4 to 5 grams, tritium, the heaviest hydrogen isotope, is used as a booster in a fission nuclear weapon.

The plant , however, can purify the gas product obtained from irradiated lithium-6 targets, since separation of hydrogen isotopes would not be required. Bombarding lithium-6 with neutrons produces an end product of tritium, large amounts of helium-3 and helium-4. By 1986-87 the PAEC had also procured ’tritiated targets' which could be used at the Pinstech plant in Rawalpindi' to extract pure tritium.

Production of tritium via lithium requires bombarding the lithium-6 isotope with neutrons in a reactor. It was not likely that PAEC would use the Kanupp heavy water reactor, which is under IAEA safeguards, for this purpose.

An official at the IAEA at that time said that while heavy water at Kanupp was safeguarded along with reactor fuel, the control rods were not explicitly checked. ’From a safeguards point of view irradiation of lithium at Kanupp would be a theroretical possibility,'

Circumstantial evidence at that point in time indicated instead to the possibility that Pakistan could irradiate lithium-6 at an unsafeguarded, unknown research reactor. Because of the low melting point of the aluminum used in target cladding, irradiation in a Candu reactor core--where temperatures above 500 degrees F obtain--would also be undesirable.

The PAEC had in fact begun work by 1985 on building a 50-MWt research reactor at Khushab which is the source for tritium and which could produce plutonium with a few high-enriched uranium ’driver' rods in the core, but which could also be used to irradiate lithium targets. The U.S. magazine "Nuclear Fuel" reported that the PAEC was ’very proud' of its present capabilities in enrichment, reactor technology, and fuel fabrication, and that the PAEC believed that it had the means to build the Khushab plant itself.[lii] NTG also exported to PAEC a high-temperature vacuum oven in 1987. However, the artificially produced superheavy hydrogen or tritium decomposes quickly into helium. Therefore, it must be constantly renewed.That is precisely what the NTG plant can do: Every day, five grams of tritium can be recovered, which is incredibly large. A few grams of this gas are sufficient to increase the power of an explosive ’substantially,' nuclear weapons scientist Gerhard Locke, 56, of the Euskirchen Fraunhofer Institute in former West Germany was quoted as saying in Der Speigel, in 1989. Therefore, ’the second bomb generation of the lighter type' cannot do ’without tritium,' he said.

PINSTECH and Centre for Nuclear Studies - The backbone of the programme

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) is the premier nuclear research and development establishment which dates back to the days of Dr. I.H.Usmani and proved to be the backbone of most of the PAEC’s projects and the entire nuclear programme.

PINSTECH played an unassuming and a subtle role in the success of the nuclear programme of Pakistan. All the leaders of civil and classified nuclear programmes were provided by PINSTECH from time to time during the execution of the projects. PINSTECH is a store house of R & D capabilities and has been a source of great academic strength of Pakistan in a similar manner as that provided by good universities in Europe.[liii]

Most people who have been writing on Pakistan's nuclear programme have failed to understand and ignored the primordial role of the research reactor at PINSTECH campus in Nilore, under PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan, which directly helped KRL. This reactor proved to be world-class university and was extensively used for research in nuclear physics, materials science and metallurgy. This is where first generation of Pakistani scientists studied corrosion of metals, radio active fuel, and design / safety of reactors, the very same people who built KRL. This is where the scientists designed and conducted elaborate experiments to learn how different materials react in harsh environment of a power reactor. And this is where PAEC learned and grasped many of the finer points of reactor, material engineering (knowledge utilized later in centrifuge design) and nuclear physics long before A.Q. Khan took charge of KRL.

The same ignorant nuclear writers who have been writing extensively on the nuclear programme have also failed to comprehend the fact that Pakistan with its research and power reactor at PINSTECH became capable of developing nuclear weapons in two different ways without the help of AQ Khan. Before 1974, if Pakistan wanted, uranium used for reactor fuel could be set aside for further enrichment to weapon grade using variety of methods that had been completely and practically understood and mastered at PINSTECH as early as 1974. They are unable to realize that PAEC was capable to produce unstable plutonium (PU-239) from nuclear reactor and don't want to acknowledge that PAEC had crossed the threshold in several underlying technologies in early seventies, when Munir Ahmed Khan was PAEC chairman.

India used a reactor supplied by Canada to produce plutonium (from stolen fuel rods) for its nuclear weapons tested in 1974 and 1998. Israel did the same from its Dimona plant. Lately North Korea has attempted to produce a plutonium device from the unseparated Plutonium in fuel rods stolen at its nuclear facility at Yongbyon and Iran with active Russian help would probably do the same.

By 1979 PAEC and PINSTECH (under Munir ) had expanded and technically advanced to the point where these organizations were capable of doing what A.Q. Khan claims to have done all on his own.

The extensive programme of the nuclear fuel cycle is the back bone of the nuclear technology in Pakistan and the basic R & D, leading to pilot plants and later adopted on factory scale, was done at the two research centres, the Atomic Energy Mineral Centre in Lahore and the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) in Islamabad which has also acted as a supplier of high quality human resource to almost all the main civil and nuclear defense projects in Pakistan.

Some of the most important departments of PINSTECH proved critical to all areas of nuclear programme. Nuclear Materials Division (NMD) of PINSTECH, was established in 1973, by Munir Ahmed Khan. At present, this Division is one of the most prestigious technical Divisions of PINSTECH which has contributed significantly to the development of PAEC's indiginization programme. It has the distinction of accomplishing several projects of strategic importance and has played a key role in the efficient running of these projects by solving scientific and engineering problems. [liv]

PINSTECH has contributed significantly to the development of PAEC’s indigenization programme by providing technical and finance for the development, production and characterization of materials related to nuclear industry and the nuclear programme. Several metallurgical and chemical processing projects have been undertaken in this field. R & D activities have been pursued on projects of strategic importance, including development of reactor fuel and structural materials, alloys, advanced ceramics, heat treatment, mechanical and corrosion testing, materials characterization, etc.[lv]

PINSTECH has played a pioneering role in the development of technical know-how for the production and processing of nuclear materials and fuel for Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP).

The Nuclear Engineering Division (NED) is one of the most prestigious Division of Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). The Division was established with the objective to develop technical expertise mainly in the area of Nuclear Reactor Technology. NED has been constantly providing highly trained manpower for several projects of strategic importance. [lvi]

PINSTECH houses two small reactors, the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor (PARR-1), being a 10 MW high-flux, pool-type research reactor supplied by the U.S in 1965, which was upgraded from 5 MW in 1989 and uses 20 % enriched uranium as fuel and PARR-2 is a 27 KWt pool-type light-water research reactor that was supplied by China in 1989. Both these research reactors like KANUPP are under the IAEA safeguards.

The Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, (PIEAS) is one of the country’s leading research and educational institutions. The seeds of this institution were sown in 1967, when a small training facility, called "Reactor School", was established at PINSTECH by Dr. I.H.Usmani to conduct some courses related to nuclear technology for the newly inducted engineers and scientists of the PAEC. Later, the Reactor School was upgraded and the Centre for Nuclear Studies (CNS) was established by Munir Ahmad Khan in 1976, which catered to the technical manpower needs of all areas of the nuclear programme at a time when the world had closed its doors to Pakistani students. The CNS has so far produced over 5000 nuclear scientists, engineers and technicians who were the backbone and the human resource for the nuclear programme.[lvii]

The Departments of Nuclear Engineering, Chemical and Materials Engineering, Process Engineering, Systems Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Medicine and Physics and Applied Mathematics and Information Technology, in the Centre for Nuclear Studies, now known as PIEAS or Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been conducting one of the most advanced masters and post-graduate training programmes along with Ph.D programmes in these disciplines for over 34 years now.

Munir Ahmed Khan also established the Radiation & Isotope Applications Division (RIAD) in 1972 along with the Nuclear Materials Division in 1973 at PINSTECH. These, along with the Nuclear Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering Divisions of PINSTECH, which were established under I.H.Usmani, played a critical role in the nuclear programme all along. A full-fledged Computer Division was also established at PINSTECH by 1980.

The PAEC/PINSTECH facilities, expertise and training played the pivotal role in uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel cycle development and provided the much needed R&D and manpower for all strategic areas of the nuclear programme. [lviii]

The Pakistan Institute of Science & Technology (PINSTECH) is also responsible for fuel cycle R&D activities, including analytical chemistry, nuclear materials, metallurgy, fuel development, digital electronics, control instrumentation, and computational physics; basic research facilities are open to scientists/engineers from universities as well as research organizations.

The Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology uranium laboratories were focused in the mid-1970s on chemical processes and quality control procedures to fabricate uranium oxide pellets to be used to fuel the KANUPP reactor. Yellow cake has to be purified to reactor grade quality to remove trace impurities. A full scale refining plant was built for this purpose. And the refined uranium was fabricated into pure uranium oxide and pressed into small pellets which were sealed in zircaloy cladding tubes. PINSTECH developed techniques for producing high purity uranium from yellow cake, and converting it into oxide and pellets. PINSTECH facilities produced the uranium oxide, and developed the special welding techniques and other procedures required for large scale production operations.


In 1965 Canada and Pakistan signed a contract for Canada to build the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP). At this time, Canada also offered to sell Pakistan a nuclear fuel fabrication plant, but Pakistan was not interested and refused. Canada began helping Pakistan operate KANUPP in 1972. The plant was kept in operation for the first four years with technical support from Canada. During this time, Pakistan began to re-start negotiations with Canada for the fuel fabrication plant. The chairman of the PAEC Munir Ahmad Khan went to Canada in early 1973, attempting to persuade the Canadian government to agree to supply Pakistan with the plant. Canada had two objections: first, Canada would lose the revenue earned previously by exporting fuel. Second, supplying Pakistan with its own fuel fabrication plant would, in turn, make Pakistan more independent in nuclear technology, which could indirectly contribute to nuclear proliferation. [lix]

In 1973, the President of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) decided to support the supply of a fuel fabrication plant to Pakistan, since Canada had also supplied such a fabrication plant to India. Pakistan's KANUPP was also already under IAEA safeguards, and those could be extended to the new plant. A formal contract was signed with Canada's Westinghouse Company, which expected completion of the fabrication plant by 1975. Fuel was to be co-manufactured in Pakistan under Canadian supervision for an initial period of approximately two years, after which Pakistan would be on its own. [lx]

With the explosion of a nuclear device by India in May 1974, Canada's view on nuclear exports changed dramatically. Canada changed its attitude toward nuclear exports, adopting a new and strict nonproliferation policy. This policy "demanded [that] any country receiving nuclear technology or facilities from Canada either sign the NPT or accept full-scope safeguards on all its facilities" as well as not to use Canadian supplies for nuclear explosions. This new policy effectively punished Pakistan for India's misuse of Canadian nuclear exports.

Pakistan refused to subscribe to the new condition. During this time, Pakistan continued construction of the fuel fabrication plant, expecting that all equipment needed for the fuel plant would be shipped from Canada by late 1974. However, just before the shipment was to leave for Pakistan, Canada placed an embargo on the equipment. Canada decided to place an embargo on the equipment for two reasons. Pakistan had signed an agreement with France in the meantime to build a nuclear reprocessing plant under safeguards, which Canada did not like. With such a plant, Pakistan would be capable of reprocessing fuel from KANUPP and producing plutonium, which was contrary to Canada's new nuclear non-proliferation policy. Pakistan also continued its unwillingness to sign the NPT. Therefore, on 23 December 1976, Canada unilaterally cut off all nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. Support abruptly ceased when Canada halted all supplies of nuclear fuel, heavy water, spare parts, safety and other technical information, and sent all Canadian experts stationed at KANUPP home. Pakistan was "left with no choice, but to find a way to make nuclear fuel on its own." [lxi]

Uranium is an essential raw material for nuclear fuel. Pakistan uses natural uranium rather than enriched uranium as fuel for KANUPP because it is a heavy water reactor, which is a better medium for facilitating a nuclear chain reaction than light water. Finding mine able quantities of uranium was a challenge for Pakistan. Reasonable quantities were found in the Siwalik Hills, west of Dera Ghazi Khan. Pakistan, however, had no experience in mining uranium. Beginning in 1972 the PAEC began geological surveys to find mine able deposits of uranium. Uranium deposits were found in several locations in Pakistan. The Atomic Energy Minerals Centre (AEMC) in Lahore was responsible for the exploration and mining operations.[lxii] A team of young engineers from the AEMC carried out the necessary exploration and mining operations. Even skilled labor was scarce, and the drillers and miners trained were "among an illiterate labor force" available in the region. The uranium ore indigenously mined by Pakistan was of relatively low grade and consisted of only a few kilograms of uranium per ton in contrast to uranium ore from Canada, which has a higher concentration of uranium per ton. Therefore, Pakistan's uranium extraction plant had to be designed more carefully, in order to reduce impurities and extract more uranium. Pakistan's uranium extraction was done entirely by chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineers from AEMC, with the assistance of Pakistani industries. As a result, Pakistan was able to complete its uranium yellow cake plant within a year. A full scale refining plant was built to turn concentrated uranium yellow cake into a pure uranium oxide usable in a nuclear reactor. [lxiii]

The uranium oxide was next pressed into small pellets of very high density to be burnt after being sealed in zircaloy cladding tubes. Basic research and development (R&D) facilities were created in the mid 1970's at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). These R&D facilities helped in developing the know-how for making high purity uranium from yellow cake and converting it into uranium oxide and pellets. PINSTECH made valuable contributions, such as setting up uranium laboratories, through which precise chemical processes and quality control procedures were established. PINSTECH also helped train highly skilled manpower and developed special welding techniques and other procedures required for large-scale operations. [lxiv]

When Canada stopped its nuclear exports to Pakistan, other problems in addition to making nuclear fuel arose. Pakistani scientists knew the overall measurements of the fuel but did not have the exact specifications of some of the key materials or the type of machinery needed, nor did they know certain manufacturing procedures or a source of supply for materials and machinery. Some special attachments had to be designed by Pakistan. Suppliers had to be located that were "willing to cooperate in spite of the negative atmosphere generated by the Indian explosion followed by the Canadian embargoes." Since none could be found, Pakistan relied heavily on local industries to make up for the lack of a foreign supplier.

In addition to uranium, technology, and machinery, Pakistan had to also plan for indigenous production of special alloys and materials, such as zircaloy cladding tubes use to encase the small pellets of uranium oxide. Pakistan could not rely on imported cladding tubes for very long, so it began to manufacture its own. Pakistan found large deposits of zirconium-bearing heavy sands along the seacoast and in the riverbanks of Balochistan. PINSTECH worked together with experts from AEMC to set up a pilot plant, which gave Pakistan the necessary experience over several years in the removal of hafnium, an element of earth found in natural zirconium.

Not a single fuel pellet has failed since Pakistan began manufacturing fuel elements for KANUPP in the late 1970's. KANUPP was designed, however, so that even if a few bundles of pellets happen to leak, "the system can easily take care of it." Canada did not supply Pakistan with a test reactor, and although Pakistan approached certain west European countries about testing and certifying its fuel, none agreed. Therefore, Pakistan set up test facilities outside the reactor to check fuel bundles for mechanical, pressure, temperature, and flow conditions. Other tests were also conducted to assure the fuel's strength to withstand the extreme conditions inside KANUPP. Pakistan then showed the results of the tests to "certain international experts and they were satisfied." [lxv]

By indigenously making fuel, Pakistan gained many new technologies. Pakistan produced the first ton of purified uranium oxide and metal before it produced the first ton of copper or any other mineral using local ore and indigenously developed technologies. Further, it taught Pakistani scientists and engineers about precision engineering, quality control, inspection, and design of complicated tools and machinery. Nuclear technology is interdisciplinary, which requires teamwork, and credit has to be given to and shared by all those who contribute and thereby took the country forward. Pakistan's accomplishments in the nuclear field "are an excellent example of collaborative work by people who accepted a challenge and decided to respond to it collectively. The participants, engineers, scientists, chemists, miners, and experts alike developed a system and an institution which is even more important than the product." [lxvi]

Moreover, the KANUPP plant has faced numerous challenges during its over two decades of operation. Following the withdrawal of vendor technical assistance and imposition of embargoes by major nuclear countries in 1976, the plant some times has been shutdown for longer durations to carry out maintenance, modifications or repair. A committed self-reliance programme by PAEC and KANUPP, however, kept the plant operational throughout the difficult period.

In 1980, PAEC successfully produced nuclear fuel for KANUPP and the first Pakistani nuclear fuel bundle was loaded successfully in the reactor core, while PAEC made all-out efforts to create the technical infrastructures, industrial resources and personnel expertise necessary to support station operation. The Design & Development Division (Mechanical), Computer Development Division, In-service Inspection Laboratory, Control & Instrumentation Application Laboratory, Quality Assurance Division and in 1973 the Karachi Nuclear Power Training Centre were established within the plant. At about the same time, the Technical and Health Physics Divisions were strengthened to provide necessary backup for technical and radiation control support. In 1990. the complete loading of the Kanupp reactor core with all Pakistani fuel bundles took place. [lxvii]

Such technical support does not form part of nuclear power plant operation in developed countries but in the case of KANUPP there was no other choice. Incidentally, KANUPP is the only nuclear power plant in the world which has been operating without technical support from the vendor which is vividly indicative of PAEC's commitment to self-reliance.

To acquire self-sufficiency in the production of heavy water, which was required for use in the heavy water plutonium production reactor at Khushab, the PAEC by 1980 completed a heavy water production plant at Multan, with an annual capacity of 13 metric tons.[lxviii]

The PAEC also went on to develop a nuclear fuel fabrication plant at Kundian, with the capacity to process 24 MT of natural uranium per year. This facility manufactures fuel for KANUPP.[lxix] Also known as the Kundian Fuel Fabrication Plant /Kundian Nuclear Complex I , Kundian is a reactor uranium fuel fabrication facility situated where SGN was to build a 50-100 tU/a spent fuel reprocessing plant (project started in 1974, halted in 1977), located near the Chashma reactor. With an annual production capacity of 24 tons, the facility has been manufacturing fuel for the KANUPP reactor since 1978. The Nuclear Fuel Plant is now known as KNC I - Kundian Nuclear Complex I. [lxx]. Kundian fuel fabrication facility is an important part of the nuclear fuel cycle facilities of the PAEC.

The chairman of the PAEC, Munir Ahmed Khan, in a press conference on August 31st, 1980 announced that Pakistan had achieved self-reliance in the manufacture of nuclear fuel from uranium and a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant had been built at Chashma by Pakistani scientists. According to him, fuel from the plant had been used in KANUPP during the past month to produce electricity for Karachi and the setting-up of the indigenous nuclear fuel production plant would save about $40 million in foreign exchange every year since Pakistan earlier had to depend on foreign suppliers for nuclear fuel.[lxxi]

The PAEC in 1981 continued uranium exploration activities and conducted geological mapping, radiometric measurements, drilling and subsurface excavations in the Potowar region. The exploration revealed the existence of uranium ores at Isa Khel and Thatti Nasratti.[lxxii]

In 1989, the PAEC broke an international embargo on Pakistan and was able to ensure Chinese support for a 300 MW Chashma-1 Nuclear Power Plant. This plant has been commissioned and another Nuclear Power Plant at the same site is under construction (CHASNUPP-II). The PAEC in from the 1960s onwards has also come up with over a dozen nuclear medical and agricultural centres throughout Pakistan and PINSTECH has been producing radioisotopes for various applications in industry.


The last major link in the long chain of building nuclear weapons is to acquire the means to develop the bomb from highly enriched uranium, or plutonium. This in itself is as great a challenge as producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, and without the know how to build an actual nuclear device, the fissile material or fuel in the form of HEU or PU would be useless.

The next critical step for the PAEC after the setting up the Kahuta Enrichment Project was to set up the Uranium Metals laboratory (UML), so that ultimately when the PAEC got enriched uranium hexafluoride back from the plant at Kahuta, it could be converted into metal and given its right shape to be used in a bomb and machined into a nuclear explosive device.[lxxiii]

Pakistani work on weapon design began even before the start of work on uranium enrichment and plutonium production and reprocessing, under the auspices of the PAEC. In October 1972 two Pakistani nuclear scientists, Dr. Riazuddin and Dr. Masud temporarily working at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy, returned to Pakistan to begin theoretical work on a fission explosive device. They were posted at the Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science & Technology (PINSTECH). In December 1973, PAEC scientists elected to develop an 'implosion' over the 'gun' type of nuclear fission device citing economy in the use of fissile material. Subsequently Dr. Zaman Shaikh, an explosives expert at the Defense Science Laboratories, was tasked by PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan with developing explosive lenses for the proposed device. [lxxiv]

In March 1974, chairman PAEC, Munir Ahmed Khan called a meeting to initiate work on an atomic bomb. Among those attending the meeting were Dr. Hafeez Qureshi, head of the Radiation and Isotope Applications Division (RIAD) at PINSTECH (later to become Member Technical, PAEC), Dr. Abdus Salam, then Adviser for Science and Technology to the Government of Pakistan and Dr. Riaz-ud-Din, Member (Technical), PAEC. The PAEC chairman informed Qureshi that he was to work on a project of national importance with another expert, Dr. Zaman Sheikh, then working with the Defence Science and Technology Organization (DESTO). The word “bomb” was never used in the meeting but Qureshi exactly understood the objective. Their task would be to develop the design of a weapon implosion system. The project would be located at Wah, appropriately next to the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF). [lxxv]

The work at Wah began under the undescriptive codename ‘Research’ and Qureshi, Zaman and their team of engineers and scientists came to be known as “The Wah Group”. Initial work was limited to research and development of the explosive lenses to be used in the nuclear device. This expanded however to include chemical, mechanical and precision engineering of the system and the triggering mechanisms. The Wah Group procured equipment where it could and developed its own technology where restrictions prevented the purchase of equipment. They had come up with a nuclear weapon design by 1978 that was subsequently tested in the first cold test in 1983.

The critical thrust towards the actual nuclear device was to set up a theoretical physics group that could work on the design of the bomb. It had to be a purely Pakistani effort and PAEC scientists on the theoretical side had the capability to design their own bomb. They studied the literature that was available and they worked extremely hard, developed computer codes, acquired powerful computers to design this system and came up with the design that was to be manufactured. Another facility that was set up in those days was a manufacturing facility for the bomb. Therefore at the PAEC, the finest experimental physicists, engineers, electronics people and chemical engineers formed a team to manufacture these weapons. [lxxvi]

In 1973 Dr. Riazuddin travelled to the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy, after which he proceeded to the United States to obtain open-source information on the 'Manhattan Project' from the Library of Congress and the National Information Center, Maryland. After his return from the United States, Riazuddin was inducted into the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as Member (Technical). Dr. Riazuddin later worked as part of the team that worked on designs for Pakistan's nuclear explosive device. As he explained, "we were the designers of the bomb, like the tailor who tells you how much of the material is required to stitch a suit. We had to identify the fissile material, whether to use plutonium or...enriched uranium, which method of detonation, which explosive, which type of tampers and lenses to use, how material will be compressed, how shock waves will be created, what would be the yield." Since Pakistan found it difficult to manufacture beryllium reflectors, the first nuclear explosive device designed by the 'Theoretical Group' used Uranium-238 as a reflector.[lxxvii]

Moreover the PAEC had to develop its own explosive plants. The explosive used in a nuclear bomb is a very special type of explosive (HMX Explosive).

On 25 March 1974 Pakistani nuclear scientists including PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan, Dr. Riazuddin, and Dr. Hafeez Qureshi convened a meeting with the head of the Pakistan Ordnance Factory at Wah cantonment, Lt. General Qamar Ali Mirza, to set up a plant to manufacture His Majesty's Explosive (HMX) for use in the explosive lenses of the proposed implosion-design fission device.[lxxviii] The project was codenamed "Research." It could not be purchased from anywhere in the world, and nobody would sell it to any other country. So the PAEC had to put up its own plant for this and the PAEC had to have chemical engineers who would operate this plant and make the explosives. Then the explosives had to be given the right shape according to the design that was delivered by the PAEC’s design team. The explosive had to be machined. The machining of the explosive was an awesome task. Explosives were very difficult materials to handle and their machining was a very dangerous process. PAEC had a dedicated team of people, mechanical engineers who were not afraid of this and who did this job, which of course was done by remote control. These pioneers risked their lives to machine the explosives.

When a nuclear bomb is manufactured, it has to be detonated and the detonation is not from one point. It is from several points on the surface of the bomb and the trick lies in this that one should be able to detonate the bomb from several points at the same time. This is called simultaneity and the simultaneity has to be of the order of 50 ns (nanosecond). A ns is one-billionth of a second. Therefore, it can be imagined that in 50 ns, the bomb has to be detonated at several points so that the implosion takes place in a simultaneous fashion and sets off a nuclear chain reaction. [lxxix]

This was a challenge for the PAEC electronics team because they had to develop the trigger mechanism. Then after the bomb had been manufactured, and the engineers had put the electronics in it, and it had got the explosives in it, in addition to the metallic uranium which was produced by Dr. Khalil Qureshi who converted the enriched uranium hexalflouride gas from Kahuta into metal and did all the coating and machining. That was one part. Then there had to be a holding system that would hold everything, the bits and pieces in such a way that a very rugged device was obtained. The device had to be rugged so that if deliverable weapons were required, there would be no problems. A missile or aircraft could therefore easily deliver the bomb.[lxxx]

All these things had to be started at the same time in parallel.


The last major link in making a bomb was to test the accuracy, and effectiveness of the weapon design parameters and accuracy of the triggering mechanism of the bomb itself. This required an elaborate system of facilities and technologies for nuclear testing. There are two types of tests, one is the “cold” test, and the other is the “hot” test. A cold test is one in which natural uranium is used instead of the enriched uranium, and the chain reaction does not take place.

In March 1983, the PAEC crossed a historic milestone. The first nuclear bomb had been manufactured. On 11th March 1983, the PAEC went for a cold test. A cold test is the actual detonation of a complete nuclear bomb except instead of enriched uranium, in the middle of the bomb, natural uranium is used. So it will not go into fission. It will not acquire full power, but it is a complete bomb in all respects. It produces a high flux of neutrons when the detonation takes place and one has to have the capability of measuring these neutrons. The diagnostics department of the PAEC had this capability and they measured neutrons from these cold tests very successfully. If there is a cold test and neutrons are detected and measured, the scientists can be more than 100 % sure that if enriched uranium is used in the same bomb, it is bound to give a fission reaction and a nuclear explosion. [lxxxi]

Pakistan’s first cold test of its nuclear device was carried out on 11 March 1983 in the Kirana Hills near Sargodha, home of the Pakistan Air Force’s main air base and the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD). The test was overseen by Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed. The tunnels at Kirana Hills, Sargodha are reported to have been bored after those at Chaghi, i.e. sometime between 1979 and 1983. As in Chaghi, the tunnels at Kirana Hills had been bored and then sealed. Prior to the cold tests, an advance team was sent to de-seal, open and clean the tunnels and to make sure the tunnels were clear of the wild boars that were found in abundance in the Sargodha region. After clearing of the tunnels, a PAEC diagnostic team headed by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand arrived on the scene with trailers fitted with computers and diagnostic equipment. This was followed by the arrival of the Wah Group with the actual nuclear device, in sub-assembly form. The device was assembled and then placed inside the tunnel. A monitoring system was set up with around 20 cables linking various parts of the device with oscillators in diagnostic vans parked near the Kirana Hills. The Wah Group had indigenously developed the explosive HMX (His Majesty’s Explosive) which was used to trigger the device.

The device was tested using the "push-button" technique as opposed to the "radio-link" technique used at Chaghi fourteen years later. The first test was to see whether the triggering mechanism created the necessary neutrons which would start a fission chain reaction in the real bomb. However, when the button was pushed, most of the wires connecting the device to the oscillators were severed due to errors committed in the preparation of the cables. At first, it was thought that the device had malfunctioned but closer scrutiny of two of the oscillators confirmed that the neutrons had indeed come out and a chain reaction had taken place. Pakistan’s first cold test of a nuclear device had been successful and 11 March became a red letter day in the calendar of the Pakistan nuclear programme.

A second cold test was undertaken soon afterwards which was witnessed by, among others, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Finance Minister, Lt. Gen. K.M. Arif, Vice Chief of Army Staff and Munir Ahmed Khan, chairman, PAEC. The need to improve and perfect the design of Pakistan’s first nuclear device required constant testing. As a result, between 1983 and 1990, the Wah Group conducted more than 24 cold tests of nuclear devices at Kirana Hills with the help of mobile diagnostic equipment. These tests were carried out in 24 horizontal-shaft tunnels measuring 100-150 feet in length which were bored inside the Kirana Hills. Later due to excessive US intelligence and satellite focus on the Kirana Hills site, it was abandoned and the Cold Test facility was shifted to the Kala-Chitta Range. Also, during the 1983-1990 period, the Wah Group went on to design and develop an atomic bomb small enough to be carried on the wing of a small fighter such as the F-16. It worked alongside the PAF to evolve and perfect delivery techniques of the nuclear bomb including ‘conventional free-fall’, ‘loft bombing’, ‘toss bombing’ and ‘low-level lay-down’ attack techniques using combat aircraft. Today, the PAF has perfected all four techniques of nuclear weapons delivery using F-16 and Mirage-V combat aircraft indigenously configured to carry nuclear weapons.[lxxxii]

The PAEC decided to keep on working on better and improved bomb designs and since 1983, the PAEC theoretical physicists, led by Dr. Masud Ahmad, did a remarkable job in that they designed one sample of the bomb after the other. After every 18 months or 2 years or so, the PAEC would have a new design and would perform a cold test on that. The success rate in every cold test was 100 percent. One design after the other kept coming out; they manufactured the bombs, tested them and were successful. After many years of bomb designing and development, the PAEC came through a series of 4 or 5 designs and then came up with a model that was the state-of-the-art. [lxxxiii]

The PAEC had a team of 300-400 people from the Diagnostics Directorate who were responsible for developing the detonation procedure. There are 5-6 different disciplines that have to be dealt with in this process. Each discipline in itself contained electrical engineers, electronics people, physicists, chemical engineers, metallurgists and so on.

This entire infrastructure for nuclear testing came into being by 1980. KRL had tried to come up with its own weapon design, based on an early Chinese bomb design, but it failed cold tests and was not adopted by Pakistan. The same design was in all probability passed on to Iran and Libya by A.Q. Khan.


By 1976, the PAEC selected the sites in Chaghi and Kharan and their geologists went to work on these sites. In Kharan there is a desert and they went for a vertical shaft. It is like a vertical well that is 300-400 feet deep and at the bottom of the well there is a horizontal tunnel having an L-shaped configuration.

In Chaghi, where there was a mountain range, the Ras-Koh range, the PAEC went for an underground horizontal tunnel. The overburden available was about 400 feet. That was the height of the mountain available for containment of the explosion.

The designing of the tunnels was also a very intricate thing. It was not just blasting a hole into a mountain. If there was a straight tunnel and a bomb was put at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel was plugged with concrete if one were to explode the bomb, the concrete would certainly blow out and all the radioactivity would leak out through the mouth of the tunnel. This had to be taken care of. The tunnel was designed in the form a double-S shape and when the bomb was detonated inside, the pressures would be very great. These pressured had the power to move the mountain outward and the force of the bomb was used to seal the tunnel. In this process when the rock would expand under the explosion, the rock would move in the direction so that it sealed the tunnel and so the tunnel would collapse inward by the force of the explosion, which would seal the tunnel in the process. Dr. Mansoor Beg of PAEC was an expert in this. Therefore, in 1976, the PAEC selected the sites for the atomic tests. In 1980-81, both the sites were complete and the shafts were all made. [lxxxiv]

The first preparations for eventual nuclear tests also started early - in 1976. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Member (Technical) and Dr. Samar Mubarakmand of the PAEC were dispatched to Balochistan to conduct helicopter reconnaissance of potential test sites with the assistance of the Army Corps located at Quetta. The PAEC requirement was for a mountain with a completely dry interior capable of withstanding an internal 20 KT nuclear explosion. After a one-year survey of the site, completed in 1977, plans were finalized for driving a horizontal tunnel in the Ras Koh range for a future test. The tunnels for the tests were ready by 1980.[lxxxv]


In the wake of the Indian nuclear tests on May 11th and 13th, 1998, respectively, a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) was convened on the morning of 15 May 1998 at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Islamabad, to discuss the geo-political situation and strategic crisis arising out of the Indian nuclear tests. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who himself was holding the portfolio of defence and attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gohar Ayub Khan, the Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmed Khan and the three Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Air Force and Navy, namely General Jehangir Karamat, Air Chief Marshal Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi and Admiral Fasih Bokhari respectively.

Since Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed, chairman of the PAEC, was, at the time, on a visit to the United States and Canada, the responsibility of giving a technical assessment of the Indian nuclear tests and Pakistan’s preparedness to give a matching response to India fell on the shoulders of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Member (Technical), PAEC. Dr. Mubarakmand was in charge of the PAEC’s Directorate of Technical Development (DTD), one of the most secretive organizations in the labyrinth of Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure. It may be said that the DTD established by Munir Ahmed Khan in 1974 is the forerunner of the National Development Complex (NDC), the designers and manufacturers of, among other things, Pakistan’s solid-fuelled Shaheen class of medium and intermediate range ballistic nuclear missile systems. Dr. Mubarakmand had supervised several cold tests since 1983 and was responsible for overseeing all of PAEC’s classified projects.

Dr. Mubarakmand added that if it is decided that Pakistan should go ahead with nuclear tests of its own, then the PAEC is fully prepared and capable of carrying out the nuclear tests within 10 days. The chairman of the PAEC, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, cut short his foreign trip and returned to Pakistan on 16 May 1998. The next day, on the morning of 17 May 1998, he received a call from the Pakistan Army GHQ, Rawalpindi informing him to remain on stand-by for a meeting with the Prime Minister. He was thereafter summoned by the Prime Minister House, Islamabad where he went accompanied by Dr. Mubarakmand. The Prime Minister asked the PAEC chairman for his opinion on the two points which were discussed in the DCC meeting of 15 May 1998 wherein it was discussed whether Pakistan should test in response to India's challenge and if the PAEC was ready to conduct the tests. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad told the Prime Minister that the decision to test or not to test was that of the Government of Pakistan. As far as the PAEC preparedness and capability was concerned, they were ready to do their duty as and when required to do so. The Prime Minister said that eyes of the world were focused on Pakistan and failure to conduct the tests would put the credibility of the Pakistan nuclear programme in doubt and would encourage India into embarking on a misadventure against Pakistan – a concern expressed by many quarters. The PAEC chairman's reply was, “Mr. Prime Minister, take a decision and, Insha’Allah, I give you the guarantee of success.” He was told to prepare for the tests but remain on stand-by for the final decision.

Once the DCC had decided that Pakistan would give a matching response to the Indian challenge, a meeting was convened in the PAEC to decide the modus operandi, quantity and size of the nuclear tests to be conducted. This meeting was chaired by Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed and attended by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand and other high-ranking executives, scientists and engineers of the PAEC. It was decided that since the Indian nuclear tests had presented Pakistan with an opportunity to conduct nuclear tests for the first time after 14 years of having conducted only cold tests, the maximum benefit should be derived from this opportunity. It was, therefore, decided, that multiple tests would be carried out of varying yields as well as the live testing of the triggering mechanisms. Since the five horizontal shaft tunnels at Ras Koh Hills and the single vertical shaft tunnel at Kharan had the capability to collectively host a total of six tests, therefore, it was resolved that six different nuclear devices of different designs, sizes and yields would be selected, all of which had been previously cold tested.

Immediately afterwards, began the process of fitness and quality checks of the various components of the nuclear devices and the testing equipment. A large but smooth logistics operation also got under way with the help of the Pakistan Army and Air Force. This operation involved moving men and equipment as well as the nuclear devices to the Chagai test sites from various parts of the country.

On 19 May 1998, two teams comprising of 140 PAEC scientists, engineers and technicians left for Chaghi, Balochistan on two separate PIA Boeing 737 flights. Also on board were teams from the Wah Group, the Theoretical Group, the Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) and the Diagnostics Group. Some of the men and equipment were transported via road using NLC trucks escorted by the members of the Special Services Group (SSG), the elite commando force of the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Army Aviation AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters.

Various support facilities were established at both the test sites, including instrumentation bunkers and observation posts. All the installations including the tunnel portals and the instrumentation and fire control cables leading into the tunnel shafts were camouflaged using canvass and net. The facilities were made to look like a small hamlet using adobe huts so as to deceive satellite surveillance. The tunnel portal itself was located inside an adobe hut. Barbed wire was placed around all the facilities so as to minimise the number of tracks and to keep pedestrian and vehicular movement on designated tracks. Vehicle tracks caused by incoming and outgoing trucks and jeeps were continuously erased by a team of soldiers assigned to the task. Support camps were established a few hundred yards away from Ground Zero at both the sites. These included lodging, food and water, restroom, shelter and communications facilities. These too were camouflaged. At Ras Koh, these support facilities were located directly south of the mountain in which the shafts had been bored.

The nuclear devices were themselves flown in semi-knocked down (SKD) sub-assembly form on two flights of PAF C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft from PAF Chaklala in northern Punjab to Dalbandin Airfield, situated in the Chagai District south-east of the Chagai Hills in Balochistan, escorted even within Pakistani airspace by four PAF F-16s armed with air-to-air missiles. At the same time, PAF F-7P air defence fighters, also armed with air-to-air missiles, were on CAP guarding the aerial frontiers of Pakistan against intruders. Both the nuclear devices (the bomb mechanism, the HMX explosive shields and casing) and the fissile material (the highly enriched uranium components) were divided into two consignments and flown separately on two independent flights of the Hercules. The PAEC did not want to put all its nuclear eggs in one basket in case something adverse was to happen to the aircraft. The security of the devices and the fissile material was so strict that that PAF F-16 escort pilots had been secretly given standing orders that in the unlikely event of the C-130 being hijacked or flown outside of Pakistani airspace, they were to shoot down the aircraft before it left Pakistan’s airspace. The F-16s were ordered to escort the C-130s to the Dalbandin airfield in Balochistan with their radio communications equipment turned off so that no orders, in the interim, could be conveyed to them to act otherwise. They were also ordered to ignore any orders to the contrary that got through to them during the duration of the flight even if such orders seemingly originated from Air Headquarters.

Once at the Dalbandin airfield south-east of the Chagai Hills, the sub-assembled parts of the nuclear devices were carefully offloaded from the aircraft and were separately taken in sub-assembled form to the test sites at Ras Koh Hills and Kharan presumably on Pakistan Army Aviation Mil Mi-17 helicopters. At Ras Koh Hills in Chagai, they were taken into the five ‘Zero Rooms’ located at the end of the kilometre long horizontal tunnels. Dr. Samar Mubarakmand personally supervised the complete assembly of all five nuclear devices. Diagnostic cables were thereafter laid from the tunnel to the telemetry. The cables connected all five nuclear devices with a command observation post 10 kilometres away. Afterwards, a complete simulated test was carried out by tele-command. This process of preparing the nuclear devices and laying of the cables and the establishment of the fully functional command and observation post took five days to complete.

On 25 May 1998, soldiers of the Pakistan Army’s 12 Corps arrived to seal the tunnel. They were supervised by engineers and technicians from the Pakistan Army Engineering Corps, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and the Special Development Works (SDW). Dr. Samar Mubarakmand himself walked a total of 5 kilometres back and forth in the hot tunnels checking and re-checking the devices and the cables, which would be buried forever under the concrete. Finally, the cables were plugged into the nuclear devices. The process of the sealing the tunnels thereafter began with the mixing of the cement and the sand and their pouring into the tunnels. It took a total of 6,000 cement bags to seal the tunnel and twice the amount of sand.

The tunnels were sealed and plugged by the afternoon of 26 May 1998 and by the afternoon of 27 May 1998, the cement had completely dried out due to the excessive heat of the summer desert. After the engineers certified that the concrete had hardened and the site was fit for the tests it was communicated to the Prime Minister via the GHQ that the site was ready.

The date and time for Pakistan’s rendezvous with destiny was set for 3:00 p.m. on 28 May 1998.

Thursday, 28 May 1998 dawned with an air alert over all military and strategic installations of Pakistan. The PAF had earlier been put on red alert to respond to the remote, but real possibility of a joint Indo-Israeli pre-emptive strike against its nuclear installations. Pakistan thought it fit to be safe rather than sorry. PAF F-16A and F-7P air defence fighters were scrambled from air bases around the country to remain vigilant and prepared for any eventuality.

Before twilight, the automatic data transmission link from all Pakistani seismic stations to the outside world was switched off.

At Chaghi, it was a clear day. Bright, warm and sunny without a cloud in sight. There was a slight breeze. All personnel, civil and military, were evacuated from ‘Ground Zero’ except for members of the Diagnostics Group and the firing team. They had been involved in digging out and removing some equipment lying there since 1978.

Ten members of the team reached the Observation Post (OP) located 10-kilometres away from Ground Zero. The firing equipment was checked for one last time at 1:30 p.m. and prayers were offered. An hour later, at 2:30 p.m., a khaki-brown battle-camouflaged Pakistan Army Aviation Mil Mi-17 helicopter carrying the team of observers including PAEC chairman, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed, KRL Director, Dr. A.Q. Khan, and four other scientists from KRL, including Dr. Fakhr Hashmi, Dr. Javed Ashraf Mirza (who later became Director, KRL on Dr. A.Q. Khan’s retirement from the post in March 2001), Dr. M. Nasim Khan and S. Mansoor Ahmed arrived at the site. Also accompanying them was a Pakistan Army team headed by Lt. Gen. Zulfikar Ali Khan, Chief of the Combat Division.

At 3:00 p.m., a truck carrying the last lot of the personnel and soldiers involved in the site preparations passed by the OP. Soon afterwards, the all-clear was given to conduct the test as the site had been fully evacuated.

Amongst the 20 men present, one young man, Muhammad Arshad, the Chief Scientific Officer, who had designed the triggering mechanism, was selected to push the button. He was asked to recite “All Praise be to Allah” and push the button. At exactly 3:16 p.m. Pakistan Standard Time (P.S.T.), the button was pushed and Muhammad Arshad stepped from obscurity into history.

As soon as the button was pushed, the control system was taken over by computer. The signal was passed through the air-link initiating six steps in the firing sequence while at the same time bypassing, one after the other, each of the security systems put in place to prevent accidental detonation. Each step was confirmed by the computer, switching on power supplies for each stage. On the last leg of the sequence, the high voltage power supply responsible for detonating the nuclear devices was activated.

As the firing sequence passed through each level and shut down the safety switches and activating the power supply, each and every step was being recorded by the computer via the telemetry which is an apparatus for recording readings of an instrument and transmitting them via radio. A radiation-hardened television camera with special lenses recorded the outer surface of the mountain.

As the firing sequence continued through its stages, twenty pairs of eyes were glued on the mountain 10 kilometres away. There was deafening silence within and outside of the OP.

The high voltage electrical power wave simultaneously reached, with microsecond synchronization, the triggers in all the explosive HMX lenses symmetrically encircling the Beryllium/Uranium-238 (2) reflector shield and the ball of Uranium 235 (3) around the initiator core in all five devices.

When the electrical current ran through the wires to the lenses, an explosion was triggered in all five of the devices. Because of the symmetrical nature of the placement of the explosives, a spherically imploding shock wave was set off, instantly squeezing the Berylium/Uranium-238, the Uranium-235, and the initiator. The Berylium/Uranium-238 shield was pushed inward by the explosion, compressing the grapefruit-sized ball of Uranium-235 to the size of a plum in a microsecond. The Uranium-235 went from a subcritical to a supercritical density, and the initiator at the centre was similarly squeezed. The process of atoms fissioning - or splitting apart - began.

Neutrons released from the initiator began striking and bombarding the Uranium-235 at an extremely rapid rate. In each instance in which a neutron hit a Uranium atom, the atom split, creating two more neutrons, which in turn hit two more atoms, which split into four neutrons, which found four new atoms, thus splitting into eight neutrons, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, one hundred and twenty-eight, two hundred and fifty-six and so on. This was the runaway chain reaction. With the splitting of each atom, a terrific amount of energy was released along with a variety of lethal atomic particles.

A short while after the button was pushed, the earth in and around the Ras Koh Hills trembled. The OP vibrated. Smoke and dust burst out through the five points where the nuclear devices were buried. The mountain shook and changed colour as the dust from thousands of years was dislodged from its surface, its dark granite rock turning white as de-oxidisation occurred from the fierce radioactive forces operating from within. A huge thick cloud of beige dust then enveloped the mountain.

In the OP, shouts of “Nara-e-Takbeer” and “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) went up.

The time-frame, from the moment when the button was pushed to the moment the detonations inside the mountain took place, was thirty seconds. For those in the OP, watching in pin-drop silence with their eyes focused on the mountain, those thirty seconds were the longest in their lives. It was the culmination of a journey which started over 20 years ago. It was the moment of truth and triumph against heavy odds, trials and tribulations. At the end of those thirty seconds lay Pakistan’s date with destiny.

Sources in the Directorate of Technical Development, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, said that the tests were performed with devices buried deep into the bellies of rocky mountains in Chagai range. "Observers present at the test site reported that the mountain structure -- originally composed of black granite rocks -- changed colour into greyish white in a split second due to the intense heat produced by the test,"

The immense shock wave produce was detected and monitored by Seismic centres in the US, Russia, Australia and many other countries, said the Directorate of Technical Development. A statement issued by the PAEC Directorate of Technical Development said that it had fulfilled its mission by not only successfully producing a variety of potential nuclear devices, but also by performing perfect hot tests which resulted in near expected yields and providing invaluable scientific data.

The statement said: "The mission has, on the one hand, boosted the morale of the Pakistani nation by giving it an honourable position in the nuclear world, while on the other hand it validated scientific theory, design and previous results from cold tests. This has more than justified the creation and establishment of DTD 20 years back.

"Through these critical years of nuclear device development, the leadership contribution changed hands from Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan to Dr Ishfaq Ahmad and finally to Dr Samar Mubarakmand (Member Technical).

These gifted scientists and engineers along with a highly-dedicated team worked logically and economically to design, produce and test an extremely rugged device for the nation which enable the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from strength to strength. By the grace of Almighty Allah, the PAEC as an organization has proven to be the pride of the Pakistani nation."[lxxxvi]

Interestingly, soon after the 1998 tests when the CTBT debate had surfaced in Pakistan, A.Q. Khan told the people that there was no harm for Pakistan in signing the CTBT while Munir Ahmed Khan in an article in The News, titled "Let us face realities on CTBT", dated 29th, November, 1998, Islamabad, was of the view that " Any claim that CTBT will not adversely affect the further development of Pakistan’s nuclear capability is, therefore wrong. If it were so, the US and others would not insist on India and Pakistan signing the CTBT. …CTBT is aimed at keeping the level of Indian and Pakistani arsenals to that of the mid 1960s." Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood was one of the most vocal opponents of Pakistan signing the CTBT. He resigned from the PAEC in protest over reports that the government was considering signing the CTBT under American pressure.


Therefore, in the light of the above discussion, it is clear that the PAEC remained the overall incharge of the entire nuclear programme, both civil and weapon, of all the 23 out of 24 difficult steps, before and after uranium enrichment, each step as crucial to bomb making as enrichment itself, and remained closely linked to uranium enrichment all along.

Because of the covert 1972-98 period of the nuclear weapons programme, A.Q. Khan was able to parley his position into unprecedented autonomy (financial, administrative and security). Second, because it was indeed a covert period, A.Q. Khan was encouraged to pose as the Father of the Bomb, even though he was responsible for just one of 24 steps, each crucial to making nuclear weapons. Those responsible for the other 23 steps all worked under the Member (Technical) of the PAEC, who in turn reported to its chairman. The PAEC initiated the Kahuta Enrichment Project under Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan and remained closely associated with all the technical aspects of enrichment. However, the PAEC never enjoyed such sweeping and unaccountable autonomy as KRL did under A.Q. Khan, and the very strict financial, security and administrative controls in PAEC right up to Chairman, after Munir Ahmed Khan became Chairman, ensured that no “material leaks” or financial bungling would take place, despite the fact that the PAEC had its own "secret funds" and was a much larger organization in terms of efficiency, size, manpower, resources, with a much diverse scope of activities and mandate in the nuclear programme as compared to A.Q. Khan. Perhaps because of that, the only proliferation charges relate to the one step Abdul Qadeer Khan was responsible for, and not for the other 23 for which the PAEC remained responsible. [lxxxvii]

In the PAEC, there were 15-20 Directorates, each dedicated to a part of the nuclear weapons programme. Each Directorate had 700-800 people and their work for over 25 years was done consistently, without greed, publicity and without quarreling with each other. There was a tremendous team spirit in the PAEC. Nobody worked in the PAEC for money or fame. They did not believe that by publicizing it, anyone could do sensitive work, but on the contrary believed that the objectives could only be achieved by working quietly and so there was no lust for fame in the PAEC. There was honesty, dedication and motivation. And the captain of this dedicated team who burnt mid night oil to give nuclear capability to Pakistan was Munir Ahmed Khan. Even inside KRL, there were many unsung heroes who never saw the light of fame or glory because they believed in working quietly, minus A.Q. Khan and his clique.

Over the years, domestic political compulsions, the power of the media, the obsession of the West with the so-called Islamic bomb, the lack of public knowledge about what goes into bomb-making, and the penchant and insatiable appetite of A Q Khan for self projection, all combined to distort the correct and objective perspective about Pakistan's nuclear programme and history. Successive governments have known the true picture but went along with the claims made by AQ Khan for domestic political reasons. Gen. Zia, for example was instrumental in creating an environment wherein A.Q. Khan managed to manipulate the domestic political situation to his own advantage and to build up his image as the savior of the nation (Mohsin-e-Pakistan) and later into the self-styled "father of the bomb" and "architect of the nuclear programme". Zia needed the Islamic bomb and the nuclear programme to give legitimacy to his rule, along with Islam, and A.Q. Khan needed Zia to bring him to the limelight. It was a perfect combination.

After the 1983 cold tests conducted by the PAEC, a bizarre incident happened that showed how Munir Ahmed Khan was made the target of character assasination and was hounded, revolves around the publication in the early 1980's of a book "Islamic Bomb" by some foreign publisher. It detailed Pakistan's clandestine efforts to make the bomb and made several mentions in a positive way of Munir Ahmed Khan and also of A. Q. Khan.

It was in the bookstores for some time but just when cold nuclear tests had been conducted and Munir Khan was calling for nuclear restraint, army generals, bureaucrats, government leaders and leading scientists were surprised to receive free copies of the book by post. Why would a foreign publisher want to freely distribute the book in Pakistan?

It soon turned out that in the new edition, all positive references to Munir Ahmed Khan had been deleted and replaced with derogatory comments. For instance a reference to Munir Khan as "a patriot and a man who would do anything and everything to bring atomic power and atomic weapons to his homeland", in the original edition, read "Mr. Munir Khan is not a patriot, he would do anything to keep atomic weapons away from Pakistan", in the revised edition. This is just one example. There were several other such references in the new edition, not found in the original version. The publisher was flabbergasted, disowned the new edition which he said was fake and demanded an inquiry. [lxxxviii]

The 1983 cold tests conducted by the PAEC was a historic accomplishment and marked the confirmation of nuclear capability of Pakistan, yet it had been a closely guarded secret. Munir Ahmed Khan himself was responsible for this secrecy for he thought that advertising it would harm the national interest, but for this sense of responsibility he and his associates in the PAEC paid a heavy price. His detractors had a field day condemning him as a failed nuclear scientist. The unkindest cut came when he was even accused as being unpatriotic. He was ridiculed and jeered. Munir Ahmed Khan endured it silently. He believed that nuclear technology required a very high sense of maturity and responsibility and must never be used for personal aggrandizement.

Munir Khan never indulged in cheap popularity and never advertised the PAEC’s achivements. He kept a low profile because he believed that bravado, brandishing nuclear capability or advertising his achievements was not in national interest.

It was a difficult decision in the making of which he also paid a heavy personal price. He remained unsung. He realised it but it was his conscious decision and that was perhaps why he endured it so courageously and in the manner of a sportsman. It was indeed a measure of his patriotism. [lxxxix] He was very modest, and shied away from the counter-productive boasting of his rivals. He saw Pakistan’s strength as lying in more than having a bomb, as equally dependent on a secure economic and political future and non-isolation in the world. [xc]

Today Munir Ahmed Khan stands accused in the dock of ‘paid writers and ignorant supporters”. The cooked up charges and accusations against Munir were part of a decade’s long sordid character assassination campaign to demonize him in the eyes of the people, and was done at the behest of a handful of proliferators and their supporters.

Munir Khan remained bitter until his death in 1999, warning several times that A.Q. Khan's freewheeling ways would cause trouble for Pakistan.[xci] In the late 1980s Munir Ahmed Khan had repeatedly complained to his old friend and Z.A. Bhutto's Finance Minister, Mubashir Hasan, that A. Q. Khan was corrupt and, more important, that he was involved in selling Pakistan's nuclear-weapons technology abroad. According to Hasan, Munir Ahmed Khan had taken the same complaints the authorities in charge at the time, and of course nothing had been done.[xcii] This clearly shows that A.Q. Khan had grown larger than the state of Pakistan itself, someone who was effectively above the law.

Anyone who would try to criticise A.Q. Khan or would seem to come in his way, would instantly earn the wrath of paid publicists and eulogizers who would brand such an individual as an American CIA agent, or hatch up a conspiracy theory of him or her belonging to the so-called anti-Kahuta lobby. The fact of the matter was that A.Q. Khan as an FDO employee at Urenco had just completed his PhD in 1972, where he was middle level metallurgist-cum-translator. He never enjoyed any lucrative career or important scientific, technical or administrative position in FDO at that point in time and the lavish lifestyle, the power and influence and the fame and glory in Pakistan that he was able to acquire for himself was something he could never have dreamed of while he was in Holland. Thus the myth that he sacrificed a lucrative scientific career for Pakistan should be understood in this context.

Interestingly enough, two important stories have emerged in the western press that raise serious question marks. One such story is the recent revelation that India was able to acquire equipment for its enrichment programme from the A.Q. Khan's network. [xciii] The second is an interview given to a Dutch radio, VPRO Argos Radio, on August 9, 2005, by Dr Rudd Lubbers, the former Dutch Prime Minister, who revealed that Dr Khan was arrested in 1975 for espionage and in 1988 for illegal entry into Holland. On both occasions he was allowed to go scot-free because of the CIA's intervention. In 1992, according to Dr Lubbers, A.Q. Khan wanted to visit Holland to see his ailing father-in-law (his wife is a Dutch). While he was for refusing visa to Dr. A.Q. Khan, the case for visa was sponsored by no less a person than the head of the Dutch secret service, BVD, Arthur Dokters Van Leeuwen. A BVD person received Dr Khan on his arrival at Schipol airport. The BVD was presumably acting under instructions from American intelligence agencies.[xciv]

In sharp contradiction to A.Q. Khan, Munir Ahmed Khan was generous in acknowledging the contributions of other scientists and engineers.and believed that the credit for making Pakistan nuclear was essentially collective and no single man could claim sole credit for giving Pakistan nuclear capability. His last meeting with his colleagues and friends was at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) where a ceremony was held on March 20th, 1999, to honour those who helped Pakistan become a nuclear power. Munir Khan paid glowing tributes to all-scientists, engineers, politicians and successive governments, in the development of nuclear capability. So many different individuals had built the pyramid of Pakistan’s nuclear programme brick by brick, and no single person could claim sole credit for it, he said. History had taught him the fragility of structures dependent upon individuals. What mattered most were institutions and not individuals, he said. With a sense of nostalgia he also recalled the meeting of the country’s scientists on Jan 20,1972, at Multan for a face to face dialogue with the President. That meeting, Munir recalled, was the turning point and a watershed mark in the country’s nuclear programme. For the first time, he said, the scientists were clearly tasked and promised full financial and political support by the political leadership to make Pakistan nuclear.[xcv]

By the time Munir Ahmed Khan retired as PAEC Chairman in 1991, he had become a ”Father” figure for the Commission’s scientists and engineers Although Munir remained unsung in his lifetime, after his death in 1999, scientists and engineers who worked with him for 19 long years in the nuclear programme paid him rich tributes and homage for his contributions to Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme and for heading the team effort that eventually enabled Pakistan to become a nuclear power. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood who began Pakistan's uranium enrichment programme in 1974 and designed the Khushab plutonium reactor under Munir called him the "architect of nuclear Pakistan" in his obituary titled "A Great Loss for The Nation".[xcvi] Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad who served under Munir as Member (Technical) and later succeeded him as PAEC Chairman in 1991 remarked that Munir Ahmed Khan's name would be written in ”golden letters” in the annals of Pakistan's nuclear history. Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Chairman National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) and the head of the nuclear test team at Chaghi in 1998 credited Munir with acquiring nuclear capability and said that ”Pakistan’s nuclear capability was confirmed the day in 1983 when PAEC carried out cold nuclear tests under the guidance and stewardship of late Munir Ahmed Khan”. Dr Samar further said, that the 1983 tests, however, were not publicly announced because of the international environment of stiff sanctions against countries, which sought to acquire nuclear capability. Fifteen years after the development of Chaghi sites and cold nuclear tests, it fell to the luck of Dr Samar to lead the PAEC team, which blasted the bombs.

Samar said that “Munir Khan was both a visionary and a doer who planned goals and targets at least 10 to 15 years in advance and then set out in all earnestness to achieve those goals,” and recalled "how Munir Ahmed Khan nurtured, guided and inspired his younger colleagues in the implementation of the nuclear programme ranging from uranium prospection, mining, making of uranium hexaflouride gas, fabrication of nuclear fuel, to the making of the nuclear device and to the selection and development of test sites in Chaghi mountains in Balochistan so that when the time came, the actual blast could be carried out at a short notice." Dr Samar said that the initial work for the setting up of the Kahuta enrichment plant was also carried out under the stewardship of Munir Ahmed Khan, who selected its site and put in place the basic infrastructure of manpower, machines and materials for it.[xcvii]

Many of the above mentioned scientists and engineers, inlcuding Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Engineer Pervez Butt, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, Dr. Inam-ur-Rahman, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Dr. N.M.Butt, Dr. Riazuddin and former Foreign Secretaries, Abdul Sattar and Niaz Naik and Senator Farhatullah Babar among others gathered in Islamabad in April 2005, on Munir Ahmed Khan's sixth death anniversary to pay him rich tributes and called Munir "a great patriot" and an "unsung hero" of nuclear Pakistan . Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood called Munir Khan as a "great hero" and that "history will sing the praise of Munir Ahmed Khan, more with each passing year" and that "the imposter has been exposed and he will explode!” Dr. Samar Mubarakmand recalled that Munir Khan had confided in him prior to his death in 1999 that "Samar, I have made a mistake all my life, that I kept a very low profile which allowed A.Q. Khan to not only hijack the credit from the PAEC but also indulge in illegal activities like proliferation and massive corruption. It was our duty, we the technical people, who should have raised our voice and stopped him from his actions which have and will bring harm to the nuclear programme". Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad said that the system of immense secrecy that Munir Khan had established in PAEC enabled the programme to succeed wherein each scientist and engineer knew only his own sphere of work and only a few people at the highest levels of the PAEC knew the over all picture. He further said that today the heroes of nuclear Pakistan had gathered to pay tributes to Munir who was the leader of all these heroes and that Munir's name would be written in "golden letters" in the country's nuclear history. Senator Farhatullah Babar called Munir the "nuclear sage of Pakistan".

A.Q. Khan, however, has been ascribed almost supernatural qualities in the public imagination. The most extreme belief happens to be that Qadeer actually gave Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the idea of making an atom bomb, even though the idea had been presented much earlier by Munir Ahmed Khan, while he was still with the IAEA in Vienna, before Bhutto became the Prime Minister, and Bhutto himself had made it a national goal at the 1972 Multan Conference.Then there is the belief that Qadeer gave the idea of the enriched uranium route, even though that route had been decided at the same Multan Conference of 1972. And then there is the belief, very common, and persisting even now, that Qadeer made the bomb, even though he carried out only one of the 24 bomb-making steps, and had no role in the design or manufacture of the bomb itself. KRL did come up with a design, but it failed cold tests. And the biggest myth of all, which has become part of the national psyche, that Qadeer initiated and built the Kahuta Enrichment Project, which infact was PAEC's project-706, initiated in 1974, before Qadeer returned to Pakistan. [xcviii]

In 1990, A.Q. Khan gave a speech in which he boasted that, “Usually, in setting up an industrial plant, the sequence is the idea, decision, feasibility report, basic research, applied research, construction of a table model, construction of a pilot plant, engineering for the real plant and construction of the facility itself. This is a long chain of steps and usually takes a very long time…. We took a very bold step and started with all the steps simultaneously.” (Text of speech published in The Frontier Post, ‘Capabilities and potential of Kahuta project,’ 10 October 1990). Well, obviously, if you can draw on work done by others i.e. PAEC, it is not that bold a step to start everything altogether, because you know more or less it is going to work. As for the idea and decision, that had been taken at the Multan Conference in 1972.

Then there is the grossly misplaced and mistaken belief that A.Q. Khan was the founder, architect and head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. This is exactly the myth that A.Q. Khan managed to cultivate and instill in the minds of ordinary Pakistanis through the mudslinging campaign that he had launched right after the 1983 cold tests conducted by the PAEC, against the PAEC as an institution and particularly its head, Munir Ahmed Khan, while Qadeer had been presenting himself as the ’savior’ and god-father of Pakistan’s security and survival. Anyone who dared to differ or stand up to his wrongdoings was instantly branded as a ’traitor’ and a fifth columnist and an American agent. But despite the massive propaganda campaign, A.Q. Khan was never the head of the nuclear programme, who was always the PAEC chairman, a position which he always wanted to acquire. However, A.Q. Khan himself became the public face of the nuclear weapons programme and in this process became larger than the state of Pakistan itself, and effectively above the law and no government could dare to put any checks on him, until Musharraf retired him in 2001.

When Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto came to power after General Zia-ul-Haq died in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, A.Q. Khan asked her to oust Munir Khan and install him instead as head of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. When Benazir rebuffed him, he shifted his loyalty to her chief adversaries, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, the army chief of staff, and Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the president. A few months later, the president pinned the country's second-highest medal, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz on A.Q. Khan for his contributions to the nuclear programme. The same medal was pinned on Munir Ahmed Khan as well in the same year (1989) who was also rewarded with the status of Minister of State, something A.Q. Khan was not able to secure for himself. But after Munir Khan retired in 1991 as PAEC chairman, A.Q. Khan successfully lobbied for the highest civil award, the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, which he managed to secure twice, one in 1996, and the other after the 1998 tests. Munir Ahmed Khan however has still not been able to get one, even after almost seven years have passed since his death in 1999.

In August 1990, at Beg's urging, the president used his authority to dismiss Benazir Bhutto. Later that year, in a speech at the National University of Science and Technology, A.Q. Khan boasted that he had repeatedly asked Beg to get rid of Benazir Bhutto because she was hindering the nuclear programme, Hassan Abbas, wrote in his 2005 book, "Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror."[xcix]

The truth however was more complex. The 1998 nuclear tests at Chaghi was the beginning of the end of A.Q. Khan’s all encompassing and self professed monopoly over nuclear accomplishment when the PAEC under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad was entrusted the task of conducting the tests, with Dr. Samar Mubarakmand as the test team leader, and not A.Q. Khan.

But history has been falsified, deliberately. A.Q. Khan was used as a decoy to divert attention from the PAEC, where the real work was being done. KRL’s scientists were only a fifth of the PAEC’s and perhaps KRL was over manned. However, the mythmakers are stuck with the myth itself, and Qadeer has received adulation and honors, and his accomplishments have been blown grossly out of proportion. Even though it was clearly exposed in 1998 at the time of the Chaghi tests, that his role in the nuclear programme was important, but not major, and not most important and all encompassing as is popularly perceived, the myth of him being the nuclear father persists to this day. Qadeer is in fact a metallurgist who got his specialization in physical/copper metallurgy in 1972, the same year that PAEC began its quest for the atomic bomb under Munir Ahmed Khan. At the time of the 1998 Chaghi tests, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand had reportedly said “We (PAEC) invited Dr. A.Q. Khan to the Chaghi test site to show him what a nuclear explosion looks like!” [c] and at another point that " A.Q.Khan's contribution to the entire nuclear weapons programme is not more than 5% of the entire effort!"

The PAEC team under Munir Ahmed Khan kept their silence about their activities and work and publicly never admitted that they had anything to do with nuclear weapons, as it was state policy throughout the covert period of 1972-98, never to officially admit that Pakistan was a declared nuclear weapons state or was pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. This enabled AQ Khan to claim and get away with what was actually performed by PAEC. They religiously adhered to the policy of secrecy about their work and did not believe in any cheap publicity or counter-productive boasting on the part of the scientists and engineers about their achievements.

There is one important point to note while examining whether there was state approval of proliferation: only KRL was leaking. Had there been state policy, the other 23 groups should have been leaking also. Qadeer only leaked what he could (the so-called Libyan blueprints might turn out to be the rival KRL design which could not be constructed). [ci]

Therefore, the “title of Father of the Bomb applies at the political level to Z.A Bhutto, and at the technical level to Munir Ahmed Khan and his team of scientists and engineers at PAEC”. In an interview with United Press International, in February, 2004, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and the daughter of the man who began the nuclear weapons programme in Pakistan in 1972, Prime Minister Z.A.Bhutto, remarked that,

”Indeed Munir Ahmed Khan was the long-term Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and considered by many as the real father of Pakistan's bomb.” [cii]

In another interview given in 2004, regarding the beginning of the nuclear weapons programme and her father Z.A.Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto said that "The main person around it was Munir Ahmed Khan, who became chairman of PAEC, and my father put together the team of scientists for this and he followed two paths to nuclear status. One was the reprocessing plant and he negotiated an agreement with France for a reprocessing plant and then he did a uranium enrichment plant." [ciii]

The National Development Complex was another success story of PAEC, and today NESCOM is one of the most important strategic organizations, which essentially has its roots in the success of NDC as a subsidiary of the PAEC, thus again bearing testimony to the vision, competence and patriotism of successive PAEC Chairmen and their equally capable teams of scientists and engineers. After A.Q. Khan and PAEC Chairman Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad (1991-2001) were both retired, the nuclear weapons development was taken out of PAEC and placed under the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), with Dr. Samar Mubarikmand as its head. NESCOM is also running the missile programme with the development of the Solid fueled Shaheen ballistic missiles and the Babar Cruise Missile. It has its roots in the National Development Complex (NDC). This was the same Samar who conducted the 1998 tests at Chaghi and who was called a protege of Munir Ahmed Khan by A.Q.Khan. He had served as Member (Technical) of PAEC under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad. When the PAEC concluded an agreement with Chian to acquire the solid fueled M-11 ballistic missiles from China in 1989, A.Q.Khan soon after managed to get the liquid fueled "Ghauri", from North Korea, and again hit the public imagination as the man who also gave Pakistan the delivery system for the bomb. The fact was that with the foundations of NDC having being laid in 1990, the PAEC was already on its way to start work on the solid fueled "Shaheen" ballistic missile, before the Ghauris or the Taepodongs and Nodongs became operational.

04-14-2010, 02:51 AM
But where is the source of the article? I really couldn't find it.

04-14-2010, 03:02 AM
But where is the source of the article? I really couldn't find it.




[i] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence", Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[ii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "Roses do not grow in D.G. Khan," Long Road to Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), p. 69.
[iii] Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program - The Beginning: (
[iv] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "Z.A. Bhutto, A Man in Hurry for the Bomb," Long Road To Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), pp. 16-17
[v] The Islamic Bomb: Weismann and Krosney, page 46,Times Books, 1981. New York.
[vi] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 47.Times Books, New York; and "Remembering Unsung Heroes: Munir Ahmad Khan", by Usman Shabbir: Defence Journal, Pakistan, May, 2004 Issue.

[vii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "Z.A. Bhutto," Long Road to Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), pp. 17-18.
[viii] "Munir Ahmad Khan- A partial vindication on his fifth death anniversary", by Farhatullah Babar, 22nd, April, 2004, The News, Islamabad.
[ix] “Bhutto’s footprints on nuclear Pakistan”, Farhatullah Babar, April 4, 2006, The News, Islamabad. (
[x] Munir Ahmad Khan's interview with Urdu Digest Magazine, October, 1981.
[xi] "Father of the Bomb" by M.A. Niazi, February 2nd, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.
[xii] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 47.Times Books, New York.
[xiii] “ A Great Loss for The Nation”, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, The Nation, April 25th, 1999, Islamabad
[xiv] . "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence", Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[xv] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 181.Times Books, New York.
[xvi] "Remembering Unsung Heroes: Munir Ahmad Khan", by Usman Shabbir: Defence Journal, Pakistan, May, 2004 Issue.

[xvii] "Father of the Bomb" By M.A. Niazi, February 2nd, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.
[xviii] "Apportioning Credit for the Bomb" by Farhatullah Babar, June 21st, 1998, The News, Islamabad.
[xix] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "Long Road To Chagai", (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), p.50
[xx] "Pakistan in 1976 told Netherlands it had Italian Centrifuge Design”, Nucleonics Week , 22nd, September, 2005.
[xxi] Ibid.
[xxii] Shahid-ur-Rahman Khan , " Pakistanis Tell of Indigenous U Mining and Milling Effort", Nuclear Fuel, December 1, 1986 , pp. 6-7.
[xxiii] Jaco Alberts and Karel Knip, "De vriend van een atoomspion", NRC Handelsblad, 21st, February 2004.
[xxiv] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, pages 182-187 and page 216 .Times Books, New York.
[xxv] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 183.Times Books, New York.
[xxvi] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 184-85.Times Books, New York
[xxvii] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 186.Times Books, New York
[xxviii] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 186-87.Times Books, New York
[xxix] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 216-217.Times Books, New York.
[xxx] "Nuclear Exports to Pakistan Reported", Der Spiegel, Feb. 20th, 1989.
[xxxi] "Remembering Unsung Heroes: Munir Ahmad Khan", by Usman Shabbir: Defence Journal, Pakistan, May, 2004 Issue
[xxxii] Ibid.
[xxxiii] Ibid.
[xxxiv] . "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, pp. 218-219.Times Books, New York.

[xxxv] "Remembering Unsung Heroes: Munir Ahmad Khan", by Usman Shabbir: Defence Journal, Pakistan, May, 2004 Issue
[xxxvi] Shahid-ur-Rahman Khan, " Zia Orders PAEC to Design Indigenous Nuclear Reactor", Nucleonics Week, November 13, 1986, pp. 3-4.
[xxxvii] "Nuclear Radiation Education and Nuclear Science and Technology in Pakistan," Paper presented by Dr. N.M. Butt, Scientist Emeritus, PINSTECH, at the 2nd International Congress on Radiation Education, Debrecen, Hungary, 20-25 August, 2002. (
[xxxviii] article.cgi?aid=00005936&channel=university%20ave& start=0&end=9&chapter=1&page=1

[xxxix] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 182.Times Books, New York.

[xl] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence", Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.

channel=civic 20center&threshold=1&layout=0&order=0&start=470&en d=479&page=1

[xlii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, " Long Road to Chagai “, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), p. 51-53.

[xliii] "Business in Timbuktu", Kamran Khan, The News, Feb. 1 st, 2004, Islamabad. (

[xliv] "Salam Passes into History", Munir Ahmad Khan, November, 24, 1996,The News, Islamabad.
[xlv] (
[xlvi] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, pp. 80-83.Times Books, New York.

[xlvii] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 75. Times Books, New York.

[xlviii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "A Tale of Two Scientists," Long Road To Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), pp. 36-37.
[xlix] (
[l] "Hot Laboratories", Der Spiegel, February 27, 1989, p. 113; in JPRS-TND-89-006 (28 March 1989), pp 33-34.
[li] "The Islamic Bomb", by Weismann and Krosney, 1981, page 167. Times Books, New York.
[lii] (

[liii] "Nuclear Radiation Education and Nuclear Science and Technology in Pakistan"
Paper presented by Dr. N.M. Butt, Scientist Emeritus, PINSTECH, at the 2nd International Congress on Radiation Education, Debrecen, Hungary, 20-25 August, 2002. (
[lvii] "The Nuclear Father" by M.A. Sheikh, April 22nd, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.
[lix] "How Pakistan Made Nuclear Fuel", by Munir Ahmad Khan, Feb. 7 and 9, 1998, The Nation, Islamabad.
[lx] Ibid
[lxi] Ibid
[lxii] (
[lxiv] Ibid.
[lxv] Ibid.
[lxvi] Ibid.
[lxviii] (
[lxix] "Data file : Pakistan, " Nuclear Engineering International, 36 (May 1991), pp. 52-54.
[lxx] (
[lxxi] --"Around the World; Pakistani Official Reports Self-Reliance in Atomic Fuel,"
New York Times, 1 September 1980, Section A, Pg. 5, Column 4, Foreign Desk;
in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, 1 September 1980, (
[lxxiii] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence",
Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[lxxiv] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "A Tale of Two Scientists," Long Road To Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), p.40.
[lxxv] "When the Mountains Move - The Story of Chagai" , Defence Journal, June 2000
[lxxvi] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence",
Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[lxxvii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "A Tale of Two Scientists," Long Road To Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), pp.39-40.
[lxxviii] Shahid-ur-Rehman, "A Tale of Two Scientists," Long Road To Chagai, (Islamabad: 1999, Print Wise Publication), p.41.
[lxxix] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence",
Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November, 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[lxxx] Ibid
[lxxxi] Ibid.
[lxxxii] "When the Mountains Move - The Story of Chagai", Defence Journal, June 2000.

[lxxxiii] "A Science Odyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence",
Dr. Samar Mubarakmand’s Speech, November 30, 1998, at Khwarzimic Science Society, Government College, Lahore.
[lxxxiv] Ibid.
[lxxxv] "When the Mountains Move - The Story of Chagai", Defence Journal, June 2000.

[lxxxvi] (
[lxxxvii] "Father of the Bomb", by M.A. Niazi, February, 6th, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.

[lxxxviii] Farhatullah Babar, "The Nuclear Sage of Pakistan", The News, April 22, 2005, Islamabad.
[lxxxix] "Munir Ahmad Khan- A partial vindication on his fifth death anniversary",
by Farhatullah Babar, 22nd, April, 2004, The News, Islamabad. (
[xc] "The Nuclear Father" by M.A. Sheikh, April 22nd, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.
[xci] “From Patriot to Proliferator”, Douglas Frantz, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 23rd, 2005.
[xcii] "The Point of No Return", William Langewiesche, The Atlantic Monthly, January/February, 2006.
[xciii] (
[xcv] "Munir Ahmad Khan- A Splendid Contribution", by Farhatullah Babar, April 23rd, 1999, The Nation, Islamabad.
[xcvi] "A Great Loss for The Nation", Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, April 24th, 1999, The Nation, Islamabad.
[xcvii] "Pakistan became nuclear state in 1983-Dr. Samar", May 2nd, 2003,The Nation, Islamabad.
[xcviii] “ Hero to Zero”, by M.A. Niazi, February 13th, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.

[xcix] “From Patriot to Proliferator”, Douglas Frantz, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 23rd, 2005.
[ci] "Father of the Bomb", by M.A. Niazi, February, 6th, 2004, The Nation, Lahore.
[cii] (

Son of Mountains
04-14-2010, 06:39 AM
Very good information wrora.....inshAllah we will continue to develop and our all enemies will have to weep one day

06-08-2011, 07:00 AM
In Pakistan, nuclear power makes a small contribution to total energy production and requirements, supplying only 2.34% of the country's electricity. Total generating capacity is 20 GWe and in 2006, 98 billion kWh gross was produced, 37% of it from gas, 29% from oil.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is responsible for all nuclear energy and research applications in the country.
Its first nuclear power reactor is a small 137 MWe (125 MWe net) Canadian pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) which started up in 1971 and which is under international safeguards - KANUPP near Karachi, which is operated at reduced power.
The second unit is Chashma-1 in Punjab, a 325 MWe (300 MWe net) 2-loop pressurised water reactor (PWR) supplied by China's CNNC under safeguards. The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), based on Qinshan-1. It started up in May 2000 and is also known as CHASNUPP-1. Designed life span is 40 years.
Construction of its twin, Chashma-2, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost PKR 51.46 billion (US$ 860 million, with $350 million of this financed by China). A safeguards agreement with IAEA was signed in 2006 and grid connection was in March 2011.

06-08-2011, 11:51 AM
In Pakistan, nuclear power makes a small contribution to total energy production and requirements, supplying only 2.34% of the country's electricity. Total generating capacity is 20 GWe and in 2006, 98 billion kWh gross was produced, 37% of it from gas, 29% from oil.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is responsible for all nuclear energy and research applications in the country.
Its first nuclear power reactor is a small 137 MWe (125 MWe net) Canadian pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) which started up in 1971 and which is under international safeguards - KANUPP near Karachi, which is operated at reduced power.
The second unit is Chashma-1 in Punjab, a 325 MWe (300 MWe net) 2-loop pressurised water reactor (PWR) supplied by China's CNNC under safeguards. The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), based on Qinshan-1. It started up in May 2000 and is also known as CHASNUPP-1. Designed life span is 40 years.
Construction of its twin, Chashma-2, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost PKR 51.46 billion (US$ 860 million, with $350 million of this financed by China). A safeguards agreement with IAEA was signed in 2006 and grid connection was in March 2011.
this whole programm seems a complete waste as the country itself.