Abdul Qadeer Khan

Abdul Qadeer Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan
HI, NI (twice)

Abdul Qadeer Khan, 1999.
Born 1 April 1936 (1936-04-01) (age 75)
Bhopal, British Bhopal State, British Indian Empire (Present day, India)
Residence Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
Citizenship Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Fields Metallurgical Engineering
Institutions URENCO Group
Khan Research Laboratories
Physics Dynamic Laboratories
GIK Institute of Engineering
Alma mater Karachi University
Technical University Berlin
Catholic University of Leuven
Delft University of Technology
Doctoral advisor Martin J. Brabers[1]
Other academic advisors Bashir Syed
Known for Nuclear detterence programme
Ultracentrifuges development
Notable awards Hilal-i-Imtiaz (14-8-1989)
Nishan-i-Imtiaz (14-8-1996 and 23-3-1999)
Spouse Henny Qadeer Khan

Abdul Qadeer Khan[note 1] (Urdu: ڈاکٹر عبد القدیر خان ; born: 1 April 1936), D.Eng, Sc.D, HI, NI (twice), FPAS; more widely known as Dr. A. Q. Khan, is a Pakistani nuclear scientist and a metallurgical engineer who served as the Director-General of the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) from 1976 until 2001. Abdul Qadeer Khan is widely regarded as the founder of HEU based Gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment programme for Pakistan's nuclear deterrence development.[2]

Abdul Qadeer Khan was one of Pakistan's top scientists,[3] and was involved in the country's various scientific programmes until his debriefing.[3] On January 2004, Khan was officially summoned for a debriefing on his suspicious activities in other countries after the United States provided evidences to the Pakistan Government, and confessed it a month later.[3] However, these activities turned out to be ordered and supervised by government of Pakistan and the military.[4] After years of debriefing, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on 6 February 2009 declared Abdul Qadeer Khan to be a free citizen of Pakistan, allowing him free movement inside the country. The verdict was rendered by Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Aslam.[5] In September 2009, expressing concerns over the Islamabad High Court’s decision to end all security restrictions on Khan, the United States warned that Khan still remains a "serious proliferation risk".[6]


Early life

Khan was born in 1936 to a Pashtun family in the Bhopal State of India (then part of the British Indian Empire). His father Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Khan was an academic who served in the Education Ministry of the British Indian Government and after retirement in 1935, settled permanently in Bhopal State.[7] In 1947, after the partition, the family migrated from India to Pakistan, and settled in West-Pakistan.[8] Khan studied in Saint Anthony's High School of Lahore, and then enrolled at the D.J. Science College of Karachi.[8] There, he took B.Sc. in Physics and B.A. in Mathematics under the supervision of Suparco physicist Dr. Bashir Syed.[8] In 1956, he attended Karachi University and obtained a B.S. degree in Metallurgy in 1960.[8] To support the fees of his education, Khan was employed at Siemens Engineering where he worked as a practical trainee (junior engineer).

After graduation, he was employed by the Karachi Metropolitan Government and worked as an Inspector of weight and measures in Karachi, Pakistan.[8] In 1961, he went to West Germany to study Metallurgical engineering at the Technical University of Berlin.[8] In 1967, Khan obtained an engineer's degree (in Technology), an equivalent of Master of Science, from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and a Doctor of Engineering degree in Metallurgical engineering under the supervision of Martin Brabers from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1972.[8] Khan's doctoral dissertations were written in fluent German.[8] His doctoral thesis dealt and contained the fundamental work in Martensite, and its extended industrial applications to the field of Morphology, a field that studies the shape, size, texture and phase distribution of physical objects[8][9]

Research in Europe

In 1972, the year he received his doctorate, Khan through a former university classmate, Friedrich Tinner, and a recommendation from his old professor and mentor, Martin J. Brabers, joined the senior staff of the Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Amsterdam.[10] At first, he was responsible for evaluating High-strength metals to be used for centrifuge components.[11] The FDO was a subcontractor for URENCO Group, the uranium enrichment research facility at Almelo, Netherlands, which had been established in 1970 by the United Kingdom, West Germany, and the Netherlands to assure a supply of enriched uranium for European nuclear reactors.[10] According to Khan's deputy, Dr. Ghulam Dastigar Alam, Khan was very fluent in German, French and English, and the FDO administration gave him a drawing of a centrifuge machine for translation.[10] However, Khan later joined the URENCO Group after Urenco offered him a prestigious job.[10] Khan was responsible for performing experiments on uranium metallurgy[10] and was tasked to produce commercial-grade uranium usable for light water reactors.[10] In the meantime, the URENCO Group gave drawings of centrifuges for the solution of engineering problems that Urenco's engineers were facing.[10] The Urenco facility used Zippe-type centrifuge technology to separate the fissile isotopes 235U from non-fissile 238U by spinning UF6 gas at up to 100,000Rpm.[10] Abdul Qadeer Khan's academic and leading-edge research in metallurgy brought great laurels to Urenco Group.[10] In a short span of time, Khan earned a great reputation there, and enjoyed a distinguished career at Urenco.[10] One of his greatest achievements was to enhance and improve the efficiency of the gas-centrifuges, which he did all alone.[10] URENCO enjoyed a great academic relationship with Dr. Khan, and Urenco had Khan as one of the most senior scientists at the research facility where he worked and researched.[10] URENCO granted Khan access to the most restricted areas of its facility as well as to the most restricted and highly classified documentation on gas centrifuge technology.[10] During this time, Urenco had granted this privilege to few of the senior academic scientists who were working in the highly secretive and classified research projects.[10]

Uranium enrichment is an extremely difficult process, as 235U exists in natural uranium at a concentration of only 0.7%; for the purposes of most power-generation reactors the concentration of that isotope has to be increased about fivefold, to at least 3%. The trick is to isolate and shed a similar isotope known as 238U which is barely 1% heavier. By spinning at very high speeds—electrically driven to 100,000 Rpm, in perfect balance, on superb bearings, in a vacuum, linked by pipes to thousands of other units doing the same—this is what the centrifuge achieves. Much of the technical details of these centrifuge systems are regulated as secret information and subject to export controls because they could be used for the purposes of proliferation, and useful to make weapon-grade fuel for weapon making purposes.[10] Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was responsible for improving the efficiency of the centrifuges used by Urenco, and greatly contributed to the technological advancement of the Zippe technology, a technology that was developed by Gernot Zippe, a mechanical engineer, in the Soviet Union during the 1940s.[10]

Uranium Enrichment Programme


Pakistan's atomic weapons research program started on January 20, 1972, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then Chief Martial Law Administrator, chaired a secret meeting of academic scientists at Multan.[12] This was known as the Multan meeting. Formal research was launched under the administrative control of Bhutto, and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (or PAEC) under its chairman, Munir Ahmad Khan, was exploring the Plutonium route, at first, to developing an atomic device.[12] In 1974, Indian Premier Indira Gandhi gave verbal authorization to the scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to conduct a test of a device that they had built, and the preparation was completed under extreme secrecy.[12] On May 18, 1974, India conducted a surprise nuclear test, codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, near the Pakistan's eastern border.[12] The test was conducted at the long-constructed Indian Army base, known as Pokhran Test Range (PTR). It was only three years since Pakistan's humiliating defeat in the 1971 Indo-Pak Winter war and the Winter war had put Pakistan's mortal existence in great danger.[13] This nuclear test, Operation Smiling Buddha, greatly alarmed the Government of Pakistan.[12] In Pakistan, this test was greatly sensed and saw as last anticipation of Pakistan's death.[13] Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto quickly scrambled to establish a sustainable nuclear weapons capability in the shortest time possible.[12] Sensing the importance of this test, Munir Ahmad Khan secretly launched the Project-706, a secret uranium enrichment programme, under its first technical director Sültan Bashiruddin Mahmood.[12]

During this time, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was working in a weapon-grade centrifuge production facility in the Netherlands as senior scientist.[14] As he learned the news, Dr. Abdül Qadeer Khan went to the Pakistan Embassy in Amsterdam and approached Pakistan government officials where he offered to help Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence program.[14] At first, he approached a pair of Pakistan military scientists who were in the Netherlands on business.[14] At the Pakistan Embassy, the military scientists discouraged him by saying: "As a metallurgical engineer, it would be a hard job for him to find a job in PAEC (Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission)".[14]

Undaunted, Abdul Qadeer Khan wrote to Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, saying, "he [Abdul Qadeer Khan] sets out his experience and encourages Prime Minister Bhutto to make an atomic bomb using uranium, rather than plutonium, the method Pakistan is currently trying to adopt under the leadership of Munir Ahmad Khan".[14] As letter was received by Prime minister Secretariat, because Khan, at that time was unknown to the Government, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto asked the ISI to run a complete background check on Khan and prepare an assessment report on Khan.[15] The ISI submitted its report and recommending Khan as an incompetent scientist in the field of nuclear technology based on his academic discipline.[15] However, Bhutto was unsatisfied with ISI's report and was eager to known more about Khan, therefore Bhutto asked Munir Ahmad Khan to dispatch a team of PAEC's scientists to meet Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.[16] Munir Ahmad Khan chose Sültan Bashiruddin Mahmood as head of the team and the team met with Dr. Khan at night and the discussion was held until the next day.[16] After the meeting, the team returned to Pakistan and Bhutto decided to meet Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan immediately.[16] A letter was directed, and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan took a leave from Urenco Group.[16]

Joining the Project-706

In December 1974, Abdul Qadeer Khan traveled to Pakistan and immediately went to Prime minister Secretariat without even stopping at the local hotel.[17] The meeting was held at midnight and remained under extreme secrecy with only few knowing about it.[17] There, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan met with Zulfikar Bhutto, Munir Ahmad Khan, and dr. Mübascher Hassan, Bhutto's Science Adviser.[17] During the meeting, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan enlightened the importance to Uranium-based device, but was unable to convince Bhutto to adopt uranium as the best approach rather than plutonium to make an atomic device.[17] As Munir Ahmad Khan was a plutonium technologist and an expert in nuclear fuel cycle, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not agree to halt the plutonium efforts but moved to begin a parallel uranium program.[18] After dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan took off from the Prime minister Secretariat, Zulfikar Bhutto quietly told with his close friends Munir Ahmad Khan and Mübascher Hassan that, "He [Abdul Qadeer Khan] seems to make sense."[17] Next day early morning, another meeting was held where dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan persuaded again to Bhutto and tried to convince him to halt the plutonium pursuit.[17] In a meeting with Bhutto, Munir Ahmad Khan and senior academic scientists and engineers at PAEC believed that they could run the reactor without Canadian assistance, and they insisted that with the French extraction plant in the offing, Pakistan should stick with its original plan. Bhutto did not disagree, but saw the advantage of mounting a parallel effort toward enriched uranium.[13]

Before Abdul Qadeer Khan's joining, the uranium route was considered secondary, and most efforts were put to develop a device with weapon-grade plutonium.[17] In spring of 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan joined the programme, and worked initially under Sultan Mahmood.[17] However, after Mahmood briefed Khan on the project, the pair disagreed, and Abdul Qadeer Khan became highly unsatisfied with the work led by Mahmood.[17] He wrote a letter to Munir Ahmad Khan, later directed to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, where he expressed his discontent with Mahmood and saying that he wanted to work independently.[17]

Kahuta Programme

Bhutto sensed a great danger as the scientists were split between uranium and plutonium routes.[17] Therefore, Bhutto called Abdul Qadeer Khan for a meeting which was held at the Prime minister Secretariat. With the backing of Bhutto, Khan took over the enrichment programme and re-named the project to Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL).[17] Abdul Qadeer Khan disliked the idea of PAEC getting involved in his work; instead he advocated for Corps of Engineers to lead the construction of the suitable operational enrichment plant. The E-in-C chose Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar, a system engineer notable for leading the construction of GHQ, Pakistan Army's Combatant Headquarter.[17] Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar chose the city of Kahuta near Rawalpindi, Punjab Province, for the operational enrichment facility.[17] Kahuta, at that time, was a remote and dangerous mountainous area.[19] And, because the experiments were too dangerous to perform in public area, Brigadier Zahid chose Kahuta as best place to perform the dangerous experiments where public life was no where to be found.[19] With promotion awarded by Bhutto, Zahid Ali Akbar was made Major-General, and served as the first Director of the Project-706.[19] Major-General Akbar designed the entire city of Kahuta and as well the enrichment plant, facility and the research institute near by.[19] During 1970s, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan worked at Engineering Research Laboratories as senior scientist and was responsible for established the laboratories and the enrichment chambers there.[20] Major-General Akbar's office was shifted at the General's Headquarter (GHQ) and in his capacity, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan served as intern director of the Engineering Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL).[20] In 1980, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was officially made Director-General of the ERL, and he would later on served his role as more businessman than the scientist.[20] In 1983, Pakistan's Chief Martial Law Administrator and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq subsequently renamed it from Engineering Research Laboratories to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).[21] At first the facility suffered many sat back, but after PAEC sent its scientists to ERL for a time being, the enrichment programme became fully functioned by the early 1981.[21]

The Scope of Research

In spite of Khan's initiation and leading the uranium program, the PAEC led by Munir Ahmad Khan remained in charge of all the other critical steps of the nuclear fuel cycle, starting from uranium exploration, processing, conversion, fuel fabrication and reprocessing- both in the pre and post enrichment phases as well as the plutonium, nuclear weapons and civil and military reactors programs.[20] From the beginning, Abdul Qadeer Khan was not involved in the designing of the nuclear weapons and including its calculations and such details were never provided to him by the government.[20] Unlike other scientists who were generally allowed to visit country's most classified research institute, Khan was not allowed to visit many of secret and classified sites, such as The New Laboratories where the weapon-grade plutonium and weapon designing took place.[20] As oppose to others, Khan needed government clarifications and special permissions were required by Khan in order to visit such sites where he never visited alone and at least senior active duty officers would accompanied him.[20]

Hence, Khan was kept in dark and was not informed by his colleagues or the government officials if cold tests were taking place in under extreme secrecy.[20] Khan was also not invited, nor any one provided him the details, to the secret cold-test of a nuclear device, codename Kirana-I that was conducted in March 1983 by the PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan.[20] In 1984, Abdul Qadeer Khan's KRL claimed to carry out its own nuclear cold test of a weapon.[22] However, this seemed unsuccessful as PAEC had already carried out the test in 1983, and would carry out 24 more cold tests of different nuclear weapon designs.[22] In 1984, KRL had produces the first and fresh batch of weapon-grade uranium loosely based on the Zippe Type technology.[20]

Abdul Qadeer Khan's Kahuta Research laboratories (KRL) was initially singly focused on enrichment of natural uranium into weapon-grade uranium.[20] Despite of international media's reporting, neither the KRL nor Abdul Qadeer Khan, was mandated to participate or/ involved with other phases of the nuclear weapon research development, including the actual weapon designing, development and testing of weapons, which remained under PAEC.[20] Nor was it involved in upstream activities such as uranium exploration, mining, refining and the production of Urania as well as the conversion of yellow cake into 6UF, the gaseous feedstock for the enrichment.[20] Nor was it responsible for contributing in nuclear energy programme or the reprocessing programme, which also remained under PAEC.[20]

Competition with PAEC

From the start, the KRL and PAEC were fierce rivals and competitors.[22] From the beginning of the project, Abdul Qadeer Khan disliked the idea of PAEC involvement in KRL's enrichment projects.[22] That was the reason that Army Engineering Core had led the construction of the KRL facility under Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar.[22] Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was a staunch critic of Munir Ahmad Khan's work. Abdul Qadeer Khan, on many different occasions, unsuccessfully tried to remove Munir Ahmad Khan's role in the nuclear weapons research programme. In spite of that, Munir Ahmad Khan and the PAEC provided its full support to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan's work. The Atlantic Monthly described the two as mortal enemies.[13]

In the early 1980s, KRL also sought to develop nuclear weapons and claimed to have carried out at least one cold test in 1983.[22] This appears to have been unsuccessful. PAEC had carried out the first cold test on 11 March 1983, and in the following years conducted 24 cold tests of different weapons designs.[22] Khan used his influenced in the government to took over the projects from PAEC and one of the notable case was in 1980, when Khan took over the Laser range-finder project which was awarded to fellow scientist dr. Shaukat Hameed Khan from PAEC.[23] In the meantime, the KRL launched other competing weapons development projects, such as the nuclear-capable and liquid-fueled Ghauri-I programme.[24] In early 1995, the PAEC developed the solid fueled Shaheen-I Systems.[24] According to its scientists, the PAEC's Shaheen missile programme was highly ambitious and ingenious. Dr. Samar Mubarakmand was the lead designer of the Shaheen missile programme.[24]

In 1980s, KRL produced both weapons and reactor grade uranium to level the competition with PAEC.[24] However, while PAEC developed its the programme indigenously under Munir Ahmad Khan, Ishfaq Ahmad and Samar Mubarakmand, Abdul Qadeer Khan's team anticipated and richly contributed to the country's first Battlefield Range Ballistic Missile (BRBM), the Hatf missile system, collaborating with the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).[24]

1998 Atomic Testings

As the competition between KRL and PAEC was already intense, the competition became highly intensified when neighboring India conduct a series of tests of its nuclear bombs, codename Pokhran-II, in 1998 in long-constructed Indian Army Pokhran Test Range.[22] These nuclear tests conducted by India caused great alarm and internal tension in Pakistan.[22] Nawaz Sharif, Prime minister at that time, came under intense media and public pressure to conduct its own nuclear tests.[22] After the Indian nuclear weapons tests, Abdul Qadeer Khan repeatedly met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, trying for permission to test Pakistan's nuclear weapons in Chagai.[22] He proposed the idea that the tests could by carried out in the underground tunnels in Kahuta.[22] But it was denied by the government as well as the Pakistan Defence Forces as too aggressive towards India and raging a war against India.[22] Despite his efforts, Sharif instead chose PAEC, under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, due to their experience of ingeniously carrying out the tests in the past.[22]

When the news reached to the him that PAEC has been tasked with the testings, furious Khan was badly upset and frustrated with the Prime minister.[22] Without wasting a minute, Khan reached to Pakistan Army's Combatant General's Headquarter (GHQ) where he met with General Jehängeer Cäramatt, Chief of Army Staff, where he lodged a strong protest and grievousness to the Chief of Army Staff.[22] General Cäramatt then called the Prime minister Secretariat, and Prime minister decided that KRL scientists, including Dr. A.Q. Khan, would also be involved in the nuclear test preparations and present at the time of testing alongside those of the PAEC.[22] In meantime, Scharief sought to mitigate the intense rivalry between PAEC and KRL by asking Khan to provide its enriched uranium to PAEC.[22] Prime minister Scharief also urged both KRL and PAEC to work together in the nation's best interest.[22] It was the KRL's HEU that ultimately led to the successful detonation of Pakistan's first nuclear devices on 28 May 1998, under codename Chagai-I.[21] Two days later, on 30 May, a small team of scientists belonging to PAEC, under the leadership of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, a plutonium nuclear device, codename Chagai-II.[25] According to Pakistan defense analyst and retired engineer officer Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, the weapon-grade device was much more powerful than the uranium device.[22][25] The yield of the device was reported to 12-20 Kt.[25] However, in an interview with Dr. Shahid Masood of ARY Television Network, Abdul Qadeer Khan said that even the second nuclear test was also based on Uranium-fissile fuel, though he did not provide any evidence to his claim despite the anchor urged to provide the claims.[26]

In an interview and the thesis written in his book, Khan maintained that eye-witnessing the nuclear tests, and becoming of Pakistan as nuclear power, was his most happiest, finest, and glorified days of his life.

Proliferation of URENCO technology

Abdul Qadeer Khan then established an administrative proliferation network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO nuclear technology to Khan Research Laboratories.[21][27][28][29][30] Abdul Qadeer Khan, partnered with Friedrich Tinner and Peter Finke, established a company to transfer Urenco technology to Pakistan, Libya, and Iran. However, the cover was blown by British MI-6, and Finke, along with unnamed ISI officer, defected to Pakistan while Tinner escaped to Libya.

On an interview given by Dr. G.D. Alam — a theoretical physicist who headed the enrichment programme, alongside with Abdul Qadeer Khan — made a confession acknowledging A.Q. Khan's nuclear proliferation work.[31] According to Dr. Ghulam Dastigar Alam, the URENCO Group had given Abdul Qadeer Khan the drawings of centrifuges for translation, and to find out the errors in the centrifuges designs that URENCO engineers were facing.[31] Abdul Qadeer Khan brought those drawings (blue prints) to Pakistan without notifying the URENCO Group and the Dutch government.[31] Abdul Qadeer Khan's stolen drawings of centrifuge machine were incomplete and incorrect.[32] Academic scientists, such as Dr. Tasnim Shah, Dr. G.D. Alam, Dr. Qadir Hussain, Dr. Anwar Ali, had developed new and powerful version of the centrifugal machine, and Abdul Qadeer Khan had nothing to do with it.[31][33] Even though it was Abdul Qadeer Khan's tasked to figure out the problems as URENCO Group had trusted him for the solution of the problems. As the problems were fixed, Abdul Qadeer Khan began the enrichment operations in KRL and a milestone was reached in 1978 with enrichment project.[34] In 1981, Dr. G.D. Alam and other academic scientists were transferred back to PAEC as they had developed serious disagreement with Abdul Qadeer Khan over his nuclear proliferation activities.

In 1980, a foreign government from an unknown Arab country contacted Dr. A.Q. Khan.[31] Khan began his nuclear proliferation network and tried to include other scientists in his scheme, including Alam.[31] The scientists had declined to cooperate with Khan. Abdul Qadeer Khan then decided to begin his independent operations in other countries.[31] Ghulam Dastigar Alam disclosed his statement, as he said: Even until today, Dr. A.Q. Khan apart from the basics knows nothing about nuclear science and even today, he is not able to talk on technical issues.[31]

In 2004, Samar Mubarakmand — a nuclear physicist who supervised the Chagai tests — provided further details about A.Q. Khan's proliferation network in an interview with Hamid Mir's Capital Talk.[35] Mubarakmand acknowledged that the PAEC in IAEA first became aware of A.Q. Khan's network in 1980s, as PAEC was also a part of Libya and Iraq weapon's inspections.[35] When Government confronted Abdul Qadeer Khan, he simply denied the acquisitions.[35] Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan first visited Chagai on May 28. He arrived 15 minutes prior to the tests, Mubarakmand concluded.[35] He ended his interview by saying: It was PAEC, especially the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG), that designed and developed the weapons as well as the programme. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was only tasked with the enrichment project that he had took over in 1976. If he knew how to build the designs of weapons, Iraq, Libya and Iran would have developed the weapons by now, Mubarakmand concluded.[35]

Suspicions of outside involvement

The success development of uranium enrichment programme attracted the outside world rapidly that observers suspected outside assistance. The western intelligence agencies reported that senior Chinese technicians, from their own nuclear weapons program, had been at the facility in the early 1980s. But, due to lack of evidence, it report did not received any attention, but suspicions soon fell on Khan's suspicious activities at Urenco Group.[36] In 1983, Khan was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by an Amsterdam court for attempted espionage.[36] When the news reached to Pakistan, Barrister S.M. Zafar, at his own expense, immediately traveled to Amsterdam to fight the case of Khan and filed a petition in an Amsterdam court.[36] Zafar, teamed with Khan's old mentor professor Martin Brabers and his universities administration, where Zafar prepared for the case.[36] At the trial, Zafar and Martin argued that the technical informations stole by Khan are commonly found and taught in graduate and doctoral courses at the university, therefore the evidences are not strong enough to jailed Khan.[36] After series of hearing, the sentence was later overturned on appeal on a legal technicality by Amsterdam Court.[36] Khan, with Barrister Zafar, returned to Pakistan and explicitly gave interviews to Pakistan's mass media.[36]

Khan rejected any suggestion that Pakistan had illicitly acquired nuclear expertise: "All the research work [at Kahuta] was the result of our innovation and struggle," he said in 1990. "We did not receive any technical know-how from abroad, but we cannot reject the use of books, magazines, and research papers in this connection."[36]

U.S. objections

As the Pakistani Government continued to secretly develop the program, A.Q. Khan, on other side, continued to scrutinize the program. In an 1987 interview, he allegedly reported Pakistan's acquisition of a weapons development plan. Khan stated that U.S. intelligence reports have been received, and they are aware of Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons and/or other harmful weapons with the potential to destroy masses. He also allegedly confirmed speculation from several newspapers internationally. The senior officials of the Pakistani Government denied all claims made by Khan, appointing a highly ranked General Zia-ul-Haq, to urge Khan to cease any information he'd been volunteering in statements, promising consequences if he continued to leak harmful information of the Pakistani Government. Following Khan's meeting with General Zia-ul-Hak, he contacted several foreign newspapers, denying any and all comments he had previously let slip. In October 1991, the Pakistani newpapter 'Dawn' reported that during a meeting of businessmen and industrialists in Karachi, Khan had repeated his earlier claims.

In October 1990, KRL's activities led the U.S. to terminate economic and military aid to Pakistan, which led to a freeze in Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program. But in July 1996 Khan said, "at no stage was the program of producing nuclear weapons-grade enriched uranium ever stopped".[37]

Expansion of network

In the 1980s, the international media reported that People's Republic of China negotiated with Pakistan for the sale of HEU fuel.[38] During this time, General Zia-ul-Haq contracted with the Chinese regime to sell HEU fuel in exchange for (UF6). Dr. A.Q. Khan, along with the Pakistan Navy's Vice-Admiral, visited China to provide technical support to the Chinese nuclear weapons program.[38] The KRL also aided China in building the centrifuge facility in Hanzhong province, roughly built in the same style as the original design of KRL.[38] When it was reported, Chinese regime offered back the HEU fuel, but Pakistan refused, calling it a gift of gesture to China.[38] However, after Khan was convicted in Amsterdam and later returned to country in 1986,[38] he stopped his activities as General Zia-ul-Haq had formed a military unit to monitor Khan. Khan restarted his activities after the assassination of General Zia-ul-Haq in an aircraft crash.[38]

North Korea and Iran

In 2003, Libya gave up nuclear weapons-related material including the centrifuges that were acquired from AQ Khan's nuclear "black market".[39]

Pakistan is one of few countries to have diplomatic relations with North Korea, first established during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's regime, a socialist democratic regime in Pakistan.[40] In 1990, it was reported that the highly sensitive centrifuge technology was being exported to North Korea in exchange for missile technologies.[40] Khan, along with Benazir Bhutto, paid a state visit to North Korea and downloaded secret information on uranium enrichment to give to North Korea in exchange for information on developing ballistic missiles. Khan again paid visit to North Korea with a senior army general to buy shoulder-launched missiles.[40]

After General's death, Abdul Qadeer Khan tried to remove Munir Ahmad Khan as Chairman of PAEC as he wanted to became Chairman instead. However, because PAEC is an influential member of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and regular participating member of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Prime minister Benazir Bhutto denied Abdul Qadeer Khan's request. Khan then restarted his nuclear network, beginning with Iran.[40] It emerged in August 2003, that Dr. Khan had offered to sell sensitive designs of centrifuge technology to Iran as early as 1989.[40] Following the revelation, the Iranian government came under intense pressure from United States and the European Union to fully disclose its nuclear program.[40] In October 2003, Iran finally agreed to accept tougher inspections from the IAEA.[40] The IAEA reported that Iran had established a large uranium enrichment facility using gas centrifuges based on the URENCO designs, which had been obtained "from a foreign intermediary in 1989".[40] The intermediary was not named but many diplomats and analysts pointed to Khan, who was said to have visited Iran in 1989.[40] The Iranians turned over the names of their suppliers and the international inspectors quickly identified the Iranian gas centrifuges as Pak-1's, the model that Khan developed in the early 1980s.[40] In December 2003, two senior staff members at Khan Labs were arrested on suspicion of having sold centrifuge technology to the Iranians.[40]

Iraq and Libya

In May of 1998, the Newsweek magazine alleged that Khan had sent designs of centrifuges to Iraq, an allegation that he denied.[40]United Nations arms inspectors apparently discovered documents discussing Khan's purported offer in Iraq; Iraqi officials said the documents were authentic but that they had not agreed to work with Khan, fearing a sting operation.[41] During this time, Iraq and Pakistan had strained relations, and Iraq feared that an ISI sting operation might take place. During this time, Pakistan, through ISI, passed solid evidence to Mossad, whose [Pakistan] scientists had helped in building the nuclear program in Libya. Also, Iraq had received a large amount of chemical stockpile from Dr. Carlos Cardoen, another weapon scientist and metallurgical engineer.

In 2003, the U.S. and IAEA successfully dismantled the Libyan nuclear programme and convinced Libya to give up its nuclear weapons-related material, including the centrifuges that were acquired from Khan's nuclear "black market".[40] Libyans turn over the names of its suppliers and A.Q. Khan was one of them.[40]

The Bush administration investigated the centrifuge's nuclear proliferation in 2001 and 2002, focusing on Khan's personal role.[40] In December 2002 it renewed its allegation that an unidentified agent, supposedly acting on Khan's behalf, had offered centrifuge expertise to Iraq in the mid-1990s.[40] Khan strongly denied this allegation and the Pakistan Government declared the evidence to be "fraudulent".[40] The United States had responded by imposing sanctions on KRL in the 1990s.[40] However, after Pakistan's contribution against terrorism and as a key ally of United States in the War on Terror, the United States had removed the ban on KRL and technological cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.[40]

Science Adviser

By the time the evidence against Khan had surfaced, Khan had became widely known in the country and held the most prestigious science tier, the Science Adviser to the President.[40] Khan's open promotion of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles became something of an embarrassment to Pakistan's government,[40] with the world becoming increasingly convinced that Khan had strengthened his network around the globe.[40] In 2001, General Pervez Musharraf, then Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, was administrating the country as he assumed the executive powers when he depositioned former Prime minister Navaz Sharif, in a successful coup d'état.[40] In 2000, General Musharraf established the Nuclear Command Authority and brought down all of the nuclear research institutions under one chain of Command. In 2001, Khan was given retirement from KRL as Director-General, and General Musharraf appointed Khan to a prestigious post, the Science Adviser.[40] While this was regarded as a promotion, it removed him from hands-on management and allowed the government to keep a closer eye on his activities.[40] In 2002, the United States began to provide evidence to the Pakistani Government on Khan's nuclear network.[40] The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed "senior Pakistani Government officials" as conceding that Khan's dismissal from KRL had been prompted by the U.S. government's suspicions.[40] On January 31, 2004, Khan was dismissed from his post and Pakistan Government launched full-fledged investigations on Khan to ostensibly "allow a fair investigation" of the allegations.[40]


Although he was not arrested, Khan was summoned for a "debriefing" by joint officers from JAG Branch, led by Rear-Admiral Ehsan Christi.[40] In the early morning of 25 January 2004, Khan officially reported to JAG Branch's debriefing and the JAG Branch officers reported that Khan and Mohammed Farooq, a high-ranking manager at KRL, had provided unauthorized technical assistance to Iran in the late 1980s and early 1990s, allegedly in exchange for tens of millions of dollars.[40] The Pakistan Army's former Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg was also implicated.[40] The Wall Street Journal quoted U.S. government officials as saying that Khan had told the investigators that General Beg had authorized the transfers to Iran.[42]

In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to abandon its undisclosed nuclear program. Libyan government officials were quoted as saying that Libya had bought nuclear components from various black market dealers, including Pakistan's.[40] U.S. officials who visited the Libyan uranium enrichment plants reported that the gas centrifuges used there were very similar to the Iranian machines.[40] The IAEA officials also visited the Libyan nuclear plant where they found models of Paksat-1.[40] Interpol arrested three Swiss nuclear scientists who were Khan's close associates.[40]


The Pakistan government's blanket denials became untenable as evidence mounted of illicit nuclear weapons technology transfers.

Debriefings revelation

The government investigated Khan's activities, arguing that if there had been wrongdoing, it had occurred without the government's knowledge or approval. Critics noted that virtually all of Khan's overseas travels, to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Niger, Mali, and the Middle East, were on PAF aircraft, secured by heavily armed No. 11 Squadron Arrows when taking a flight with Khan. Often, he was accompanied by senior members of Pakistan's nuclear establishment, both civil and military members. Due to Khan's importance, Khan never traveled in commercial jets but Khan was given a PAF's Boeing 707, which was usually flown by either highly professionally air force or naval fighter pilots. Khan was often protect by members of Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT) where clearance of visitors were often required.

The full scope of the Khan network is not fully known and remains classified. Centrifuge components were apparently manufactured in Malaysia with the aid of South Asian and German middlemen, and used a Dubai computer company as a false front. In Malaysia, Khan was helped by Sri Lanka-born Buhary Sayed Abu Tahir, who shuttled between Kuala Lumpur and Dubai to arrange for the manufacture of centrifuge components by a Malaysian company.[43] Khan Research Laboratories is said to have entered into an agreement with Malaysian businessman Shah Hakim Zain to export conventional weapons to Malaysia.[44]

The Khan investigation also revealed how many European companies were defying export restrictions and aiding the Khan network. Dutch companies exported thousands of centrifuges to Pakistan as early as 1976, and a German company exported facilities for the production of tritium (for hydrogen bombs) to the country.[45]

The investigation exposed Israeli businessman turned engineer Asher Karni as having sold component of centrifugal devices to Khan's associates and its roots were also found in aiding Israeli nuclear program as well.[43] Karni was the source providing electronic materials to Israeli nuclear programme to Pakistan's nuclear development.[43] Tahir was arrested in Malaysia in May 2004 under a Malaysian law allowing for the detention of individuals posing a security threat.[43]

In September 2005, Musharraf revealed that after two years of questioning Khan — which the Pakistan government insisted on doing itself without outside intervention — that they had confirmed that Khan had supplied centrifuge parts to North Korea.


In early February 2004, the Government of Pakistan reported that Khan had signed a confession indicating that he had provided Iran, Libya, and North Korea with designs and centrifuge technology to aid in nuclear weapons programs, and said that the government had not been complicit in the proliferation activities. The Pakistan Government officials who made the announcement said that Khan had admitted to transferring centrifuge technology and information to Iran between 1989 and 1991, to North Korea and Libya between 1991 and 1997 (U.S. officials at the time maintained that transfers had continued with Libya until 2003), and additional technology to North Korea up until 2000.[46] On 4 February 2004, Khan appeared on state's controlled Pakistan Television (PTV) and confessed to running a proliferation ring where his confession was on-aired by Pakistan's state and private television stations all over the country.

Pardon and reaction

On 5 February 2004, the day after Khan's televised confession, President Musharraf pardoned him as he feared an extreme reaction would be built if he's not pardoned. However, Musharraf wanted to avoid his regime from international pressure, particularly the U.S. pressure. Therefore, Khan was remained kept under continuous debriefings.[43]

The debriefing of Khan became one of the most high-profile and highlighted news in Pakistan, with Pakistan media aired talk shows and documentaries to sympathize with Khan. The Islamist front and conservative parties came in support for Khan where they held demonstration throughout the country. General Musharraf's long standing ally, the MQM, the Urdu-speaking and largest liberal-secular party, publicly came in support for Khan. Abdul Qadeer Khan, an ethnic muhajir from India, received a tremendous amount of political and moral support from MQM as its parliamentarians gathering support for Khan. MQM threatened General Musharraf to leave the government if Khan's case is mistreated or even jailed in infamous Adiala Jail. The recent development in Pakistan got United States worried as the American Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker sent an observed report on Khan's reaction in Pakistan. The United States feared a political turmoil, roughly equivalent to Iranian Revolution, and loss of General Musharraf as an ally in War against terrorism. Therefore, the United States imposed no sanctions following the confession and pardon. The U.S. officials said that in the War on Terrorism, it was not their goal to denounce or imprison people but "to get results." Sanctions on Pakistan or demands for an independent investigation of the Pakistan Armed Forces might have led to restrictions on or the loss of use of Pakistan Armed Forces bases needed by United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan. "It's just another case where you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," a U.S. government official explained.[citation needed]

The U.S. also refrained from applying further direct pressure on Pakistan to disclose more about Khan's activities due to a strategic calculation that such pressure might topple President Musharraf. In a speech to the National Defense University on 11 February 2004, President Bush proposed to reform the IAEA: "No state, under investigation for proliferation violations, should be allowed to serve on the IAEA Board of Governors—or on the new special committee. And any state currently on the Board that comes under investigation should be suspended from the Board. The integrity and mission of the IAEA depends on this simple principle: Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules."[47] The Bush proposal was seen as targeted against Pakistan which, then served on the Board of Governors. It has not received attention from other governments.


Following his confession, Khan became a major international symbol of proliferation. In February 2005, he was featured on the front cover of Time magazine as the "Merchant of Menace", labeled "the world's most dangerous nuclear trafficker," and in November 2005, the Atlantic Monthly ran "The Wrath of Khan", featured a picture of a mushroom cloud behind Khan's head on the cover.

A notorious image in West, Abdul Qadeer Khan remained extremely popular in Pakistan and saw as national hero of Pakistan. Science in Pakistan served as Pakistan's extreme national pride, and Khan's long association with science bought Khan a tremendous popularity. Khan's downfall affected the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf, as he was called the "Pro-American Leader".[citation needed] Freelance people in Pakistan openly blamed the United States for Khan's house arrest. Journalists and the mainstream media came to support Khan and expressed their sympathies to him.[citation needed]

Opposition parties in Pakistan as well as coalition parties supported Khan. The MQM provided its tremendous political and moral support to Khan and calling Khan as its own blood. Its senior leader and parliamentarians, most notably dr. Färouq Sätar and Babar Ghaüri continued Khan's support from the beginning as they influenced the government to release Khan at a shortest time possible. Former Minister for Religious Affairs Ejaz-ul-Haq held a public press conference in May 2007 to express his support for Khan. Aseff Ahmad Ali, Education minister, also supported Abdul Qadeer Khan where Khan remained highly popular in ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

End of debriefings

The debriefings were suspended when General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani became the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army in 2007.[3] In a meeting held by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Secretariat, senior joint military leaders and officers unanimously voted for the termination of Khan's debriefings. Prompting, General Tärikue Majid, then-newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, officially terminated the military debriefings of Khan on August 14, 2008.[3] Khan was never charged with espionage activities nor were criminal charges pressed against Khan.[3] The debriefings were only taken place to learn and dismantle Khan's network, which it did successfully.[3] However, the debriefings were ended quickly and wrapped up quietly following the fall of Military regime of General Pervez Musharraf. However, the details of such knowledge remain classified and hidden. A complicating factor is that few believe that Khan acted alone and the affair risks gravely damaging the Armed Forces, which oversaw and controlled the nuclear weapons development and of which Musharraf was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, until his resignation from military service on 28 November 2007.[48]

Khan was still under the house-arrest even the new democratic government of Yousaf Raza Gillani was in effect. Therefore Khan turned to Islamabad High Court for his final release, and filed a petition. After attending several hearings, the Islamabad High Court ordered the government to release Khan on immediate effects. In 2009, Gillani government terminated house-arrest orders and uplifted the sanctions imposed on Khan previously by General Musharraf government. Hence, Khan was released by Islamabad High Court and the Gillani government pressed no criminal charges which were ever pressed on against him.

Calls from IAEA

Since 2005, and particularly in 2006, there have been renewed calls by IAEA officials, senior U.S. congressmen, European Commission politicians, and others to make Khan available for interrogation by IAEA investigators, given lingering skepticism about the disclosures made by Pakistan regarding Khan's activities. In the U.S., these calls have been made by elected U.S. lawmakers rather than by the U.S. Department of State, though some interpreted them as signaling growing international discontent with the Musharraf regime.

In May 2006, the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation held a hearing titled, "The A.Q. Khan Network: Case Closed?" Legislators and experts demanded that Pakistan turn Khan over to the U.S. and further Pakistan efforts to curb proliferation. When the news reached to Pakistan, Chairman of Senate Secretariat M.M. Suomrow called a meeting to observed and discuss the U.S. demands. In June 2006, a Pakistan Senate subcommittee issued a unanimous resolution criticizing the U.S. committee, stating that Pakistan would not turn Khan over to U.S. authorities at any given cost.

In February 2009, two senior government officials announced that restrictions on Khan had been removed, allowing him to meet friends and relatives either at his home or elsewhere in Pakistan. The officials said that a security detail continued to observe his movements.[49]

Armed Forces proliferation involvement

In December 2006, the Swedish Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (SWMDC) headed by Hans Blix, a former IAEA chief and United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) chief; said in a report that Khan could not have acted alone "without the awareness of the Pakistani Government".[50] According to Indian commentator Kuldip Nayar, Khan did not acted alone and the ISI, the Army, and even Bhutto knew what Khan was doing.[15] It was Bhutto who provided his full government support even when ISI rejected him as incompetent scientist.[15]

On 4 July 2008, in an interview, Khan blamed President Musharraf and the Army for the transfer of nuclear technology, claiming that Musharraf was aware of all the deals and he was the "Big Boss" for those deals.[51]

Khan said that Pakistan gave centrifuges to North Korea in a 2000 shipment supervised by the army. The equipment was sent in a North Korean plane loaded under the supervision of Pakistani security officials. He also said that he had traveled to North Korea in 1999 with a Pakistani Army general to buy shoulder-launched missiles. Asked why he had taken sole responsibility for proliferation, Khan said friends, including a central figure in the ruling party at the time, had persuaded him that it was in the national interest. In return he had been promised complete freedom.[52]

Khan wrote to journalist Simon Henderson on 10 December 2003, saying that he was acting precisely under the orders of the Pakistani government when he sold weapon designs to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Khan also says that Pakistan built a centrifuge plant for China in Hanzhong province, in exchange for enriched uranium.[53] Nuclear weapons expert David Albright of the ISIS agrees that Khan's activities were government-sanctioned.[54] Leading experts, both within the country and abroad, believe that Khan was made scapegoat by Musharraf in order to save himself when General Musharraf allegedly authorized the illegal transfers of sensitive centrifuges to North-Korea through Khan in 1999.[52] A larger and clearer investigation would be also opened the names of the high military officers, such as Admiral Sirohey and General Mirza Beg, whom Musharraf served under.[52] On political effect, investigations might also exposed senior statesman and politicians, such as Benazir Bhutto, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Aftab Kazi and many others who were allegedly claimed to be involved or either encouraged Khan to proliferate the technology for their own benefits.[52]

Other activities

Space program

Since 1980s, Abdul Qadeer Khan, along with Munir Ahmad Khan, remained a vital and one of the administrative science figure in Pakistan's Integrated space weapons programme. During 1980s, Khan sought to re-organize and revitalize the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) — country's top national space authority. Khan remained a strong vocalist especially in the Suparco-proposed space projects. Khan followed Munir Ahmad Khan's footsteps and participated in Suparco's development of Hatf-I programme as project's senior scientist. Since 1996, Khan was increasingly involved in Pakistan's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) project as he supervised the development of Ghauri-I. And in March 2001, Khan announced that Pakistani scientists were in the process of building the country's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) and that the project had been assigned to [Suparco, which also built the Badr-I. Khan also cited the fact that India had made rapid strides in the fields of SLV and satellite manufacture as another motivation for developing an indigenous launch capabilities.[55]

One of the premium project was when Khan led and served as the technical director of Suparco's scientists on the development and construction of Pakistan's first indigenous constructed launch facility and space port, Tilla Space Center where the Ghauri-I successfully took its first space flight. As metallurgist, Khan remained director of Suparco's Metallurgical Laboratories and educational facilities. In 1999, Khan briefed General Pervez Mushrraf describing his self-designed Low Earth orbit (LEO) and suggested that Pakistan should launch a satellite from its own launch centers. But Musharraf did not grant him permission. He was highly disappointed and wrote about it in his column.[56] On 10 December 2001, Pakistan launched its second Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite instead from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Zenit-2.


On 12 November 2008, he started writing weekly columns in The News International[57] and Daily Jang.[58][58]


Since his return to his homeland, Abdul Qadeer Khan elevated to became as country's top scientist[3] and involved in country's scientific programmes for more than two decades. Science in Pakistan served as an extreme national pride, national identities and state honors are bestowed to both junior and senior scientists each year. His long association with science in Pakistan has brought Khan a great laurels and an extreme popularity in Pakistan. Khan secured the fellowship of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, whose fellowship is highly restricted to scientists.[59] Through Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Khan published two books on metallurgy and material science.[60] Khan began to published his articles from KRL in 1980s, and began to organize conferences on Metallurgy by inviting materiel scientists from all over the world.[60] Gopal S. Upadhyaya, an Indian nuclear scientist and metallurgist as well, attended Khan's conference in 1980s and personally met him along with Kuldip Nayar.[60] In Upadhyaya's words, Khan was a proud Pakistani who wanted to show the world that he and scientists from Pakistan are no inferior to any one in the world.[60]

While in Technical University of Berlin , Khan briefly taught courses on Thermodynamic and Metallurgy under supervision of prof. Jongenburger as his assistant. At, Catholic University of Leuven, Khan worked and researched under dr. Stark and also taught courses on Calculus and Differential geometry under his guidance. In Pakistan, Khan went onto established institutes and universities in his country and organizing the scientific organizations throughout the country.[59] One of his notable contribution at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology where he served as the Project-Director of this university.[59] Khan went to served as one of the executive officer of the Board of directors of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology.[59] After the construction of institute was completed, Khan became senior Professor of Metallurgical Engineering while also served as the Chairman of Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science and Engineering of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology.[59] At there, Khan also taught advanced course on vector and Multivariable calculus and continued teaching and instructing courses on material science and engineering.

Later, Khan helped established the Dr. A. Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering at the Karachi University.[59]

After the ending of Khan's debriefings, Khan is serving as senior research associate at the Pakistan Academy of Sciences where he continued to published papers on metallurgy.[59] On recent, Khan was one of the academic who opposed the dissolution of Higher Education Commission under the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan.[61]

Health matters


On 22 August 2006, the Pakistani government announced that Khan was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. On 9 September 2006, Khan had surgery at Aga Khan hospital, in Karachi. According to doctors, the operation was successful, but on 30 October it was reported that his condition had deteriorated and he was suffering from deep vein thrombosis.[62]


On 5 March 2008, Khan was admitted to an Islamabad hospital[63] with low blood pressure and fever,[64] reportedly due to an infection. He was released four days later.


Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is no longer associated with Pakistan's nuclear weapons development since 2001 when he was removed as Director-General of Kahuta Research Laboratories.[65] Though Khan is now living a quiet life and dedicated himself to the promotion of science in his country. Khan maintains his stance to use of controversial technological solutions to both military and civilian problems, including the use of military technologies for the civilian welfare. Khan also remained a vigorous advocate for Pakistan's nuclear deterrence development as sparing his country the fate of Iraq or Libya.[66] In his own words, Khan arugued that "had Iraq and Libya been nuclear powers, they wouldn't have been destroyed in the way we have seen recently".[66]


Despite his extreme popularity, Khan is roundly criticized for being an opportunist and, also criticized for taking the credits of other scientists. Due to common public misconception and his extreme public popularity, Western, American, and Pakistan's Media have always portraited Abdul Qadeer Khan as "Father of nuclear detterence development". In fact, Abdul Qadeer Khan was the technical director of only one HEU based Gas-centrifuge project, which was one part of Pakistan's uranium enrichment programme. Throughout his active role, Abdul Qadeer Khan's popularity overshadowed Zulifikar Ali Bhutto who gave birth to this programme, and Munir Ahmad Khan who was the driving force of leading the projects in the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear deterrence program. From the start of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, nuclear development was under the supervision of its designated technical director and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan, with contributions of other scientists, such as Abdus Salam, Riazuddin, Asghar Qadir, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and several others. The nuclear development was exercised under the administrative leadership of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who gave birth and initiated, administrated, and orchestrated this programme.[2]

The proliferation activities caused Pakistan an international embarrassment, and seriously undermined Pakistan's efforts to use atoms for peaceful and economical reasons.[15] Abdul Qadeer Khan came under intense criticism by his peers, such as Pervez Hoodbhoy, a prominent nuclear physicist, over his involvement in nuclear proliferation.[67] Hoodbhoy heavily criticized the American (including David Albright), European, and the Pakistani media, for responsible for certain popular misconceptions about A.Q. Khan's role in the scientific research that was started by Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdus Salam in January 1972.[67] In 1999, in an editorial essay written at Chowk.com, Hoodbhoy wrote:

"Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the pre-eminent architect of nuclear deterrence program, is often called a nuclear physicist when, in fact, his degrees and professional accomplishments belong to the field of metallurgy, which is an engineering discipline rather than physics.[67] When Dr. Khan visited the physics department of Quaid-e-Azam University about two months ago, he endeared himself even more to his admirers by wistfully saying he wished he could come someday to this university to study physics".


Honors and recognitions

Because of Abdul Qadeer Khan's open public promotion by the Pakistan media, Khan remained one of the most known scientist in the country. His active role in science, during the last two decades, in the nuclear development; Abdul Qadeer Khan came to known, both nationally and internationally as the country's top nuclear physicist, in spite of his academic (metallurgical) engineering discipline.[3] Abdul Qadeer Khan has received more than 60 Gold medal across the countries universities and colleges.[59] On 14 August 1989, Abdul Qadeer Khan, along with his counterpart Munir Ahmad Khan, was honored by the Government of Pakistan after he was awarded the second highest civil award, "Hilal-e-Imtiaz" by the former Prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a public ceremony.[59] In 14 August 1996, Abdul Qadeer Khan was awarded the highest civilian award "Nishan-e-Imtiaz" by former Prime minister Nawaz Sharif. On 12 March 1999, Abdul Qadeer Khan was again awarded and honored the highest civilian award "Nishan-e-Imtiaz" from President Justice (retired) Rafique Tarar.[59] With receiving the Nishane-e-Imtiaz for the second time, Abdul Qadeer Khan remains the only Pakistani citizen who has been twice honored and awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, to date.[59]

Honorary degrees

Khan has been conferred with various of honorary Doctorate of Sciences (D.Sc.) from all over the universities in Pakistan.[59] A list of universities are listed below that have conferred Abdul Qadeer Khan with honorary doctorate degree:

Even after his confession, Abdul Qadeer Khan remains widely popular among Pakistani civil society and he is considered domestically to be one of its most-influential and respected scientists.[7] In an interview with Pakistani political analyst Hamid Mir, Dr. Salim Farookhi described Khan as, "the most influential and talented scientist that Pakistan has produced."[69]


  • Islamic Academy of Sciences
  • Kazakh National Academy of Sciences
  • Pakistan Institute of Metallurgical Engineers
  • Pakistan Institute of Engineers
  • Institute of Central and West Asian Studies
  • Chartered Engineer and Member, The institute of Materials, London
  • Member of American Society of Metals (ASM)
  • The Metallurgical Society of the American Institute of Met. Min. and Petr. Engineers (TMS)
  • Canadian Institute of Metals (CIM)
  • Japan Institute of Metals (JIM)


Selected research papers and patents

  • "Topics in Physical Metallurgy" - The Burgers Festschrift - Edited by A.Q. Khan and M.J. Brabers, Elsevier F]Publishing Co., Amsterdam, August 1972. (contains ca. 35 articles & 460 pages).
  • Stress-induced phase transformations and enhanced plasticity in Cu-Al and Cu-Al-Zn martensites, J. Materials Science, December 1972, with G.V.D. Perre and L. Delaey.
  • `Topics in Physical Metallurgy' (Eds. A.Q. Khan and M.J. Brabers)., Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1972.
  • Dynamic recovery and recrystallization in iron-containing aluminium bronzes, Transformations Japan Institute of Metals, Volume 15, No. 2 (March 1974).
  • Creating a complete metallurgical engineer, Metals and Materials, April 1974.
  • An-X-ray diffraction study of stacking sequences, stacking faults and distortions in copper-based martensites - Application to Ci-Al and Cu-Al-Zn martensites, J. Applied Cryst., published with G.V.d. Perre, L. Delaey. H. Tas, W. Vandermeulen & A. Deruyttere, (1974).
  • . The Hall-Petch relationship in copper-based martensites, Materials Science & Engineering, vol.15, (1974), with M.J. Brabers and L. Delaey, pp. 263–274.
  • . The spread of Nuclear Weapons among nations: Militarization or Development, pp. 417–430. (Ref. Nuclear War Nuclear Proliferation and their consequences "Proceedings of the Vth International Colloquium organised by the Group De Bellerive Geneva 27–29 June 1985, Edited by: Sadruddin Aga Khan, Published by Clarendon Press-Oxford 1986).
  • Microstructural changes during Retrogression and reaging in AA-7075 - A TEM study, Proceedings, Aluminium Technology `86, Section B, Institute of Metals (1986).
  • Chromium Determination in Steel using atomic Absorption spectrophotometer? problems and their remedies, Pak Steel Journal, Vol 26, Jan-Mar. 1986.
  • Flow Induced Vibrations in Gas Tube Assembly of Centrifuges, Journal of Nuclear Science and technology, 23(9), (Sept. 1986), pp. 819–827.
  • Dilation investigation of a ® g transformation in 18% Ni maraging steels, Proceedings of The International Conf. on Martensitie Transformations (1986), The Japan Institute of Metals, pp. 560–565.
  • Electrical and magnetic properties of double-aged 18% nickel maraging steels, Proceedings of The International Conf. on Martensitie Transformations (1986), The Japan Institute of Metals, pp. 572–577.
  • Physical and mechanical properties of ultra-high strength 18% nickel maraging steel, vol.28, (Jul-Sept./Oct-Dec. 1986). Pakistan Steel Journal, pp. 87–90.
  • Some remarks on the hardness and yield strength of aluminum alloy 7075 as a function of retrogression time, vol. 18-A,, Feb. 1987, Metallurgical Transactions, pp. 350–354.
  • Hot stage electron microscopy of rapidly solidified Cu-Al-Ni ß-phase alloys, Proc. 2nd Beijing Conf. and Exhib. on Instrum. Analysis, 1987.


  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1972) (in English, German and Dutch). Advances in Physical Metallurgy. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Press. ISBN 9698500006. 
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer; Dr. Martin J. Brabers (1972) (in English, German and Dutch). Topics in Metallurgy. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Press. ISBN 0196-8858. 
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1983) (in English, German and Dutch). Metallurgical Thermodynamics and Kinetics. Islamabad, Pakistan: The Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. ISBN 9789693508215. 
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer; Syed Shabbir Hussain, Mujahid Kamran (1997). Dr. A.Q. Khan on science and education. Islamabad, Pakistan: Sang-e-Meel Publications. ISBN 9789693508215. 

See also


  1. ^ In Pakistan, Pakistan Media labeled Abdul Qadeer Khan is as "Prominent atomic scientist", and has given courtesy title, Mohsin-e-Pakistan (in Urdu: محسن پاکِستان; English Translation: Savior of Pakistan). His name can be spell in various ways. The Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) spelled his name as Abdul Qaudeer Khan as well Islamic Academy of Science also spelled his name in same manner. Other educational organization spelled his name as Abdul Qadir Khan or Abdul Kadeer Khan. Alternative pronunciations for his name are Gaudeer or either Gadeer. On the other hand, Khan's birth certificate reads "Abdul Qadeer Khan".
  1. ^ "The Wrath of Khan - Magazine". The Atlantic. 2004-02-04. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200511/aq-khan/2. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  2. ^ a b (IISS), International Institute for Strategic Studies (2006). "Bhutto was father of Pakistan's Atom Bomb Programme". International Institute for Strategic Studies. http://www.iiss.org/whats-new/iiss-in-the-press/press-coverage-2007/may-2007/bhutto-was-father-of-pakistani-bomb/?locale=en. Retrieved 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bernstein, Jeremy (May 28, 2009). "He Changed History". The New York Review of Books. The New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/apr/09/he-changed-history/. Retrieved 2011. 
  4. ^ http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/
  5. ^ "IHC declares Dr A Q Khan a free citizen". GEO.tv. 2009-02-06. http://geo.tv/2-6-2009/34508.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  6. ^ Warrick, Joby Warrick (February 7, 2009). "Nuclear Scientist A.Q. Khan Is Freed From House Arrest". Joby Warrick, Washington Post Staff Writer. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/06/AR2009020603730.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Founder and Ex-Chairman Dr. A Q Khan Research Laboratories". Pakistanileaders.com.pk. http://www.pakistanileaders.com.pk/profile/Abdul_Qadeer_Khan. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "About Khan's education, achievements and research". Dr. A. Q. Khan. http://www.draqkhan.com.pk/about.htm. 
  9. ^ Khan, Abdul Qadeer, The effect of morphology on the strength of copper-based martensites, Doctor of Engineering Thesis under the supervision of Professor Martin J. Brabers, Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, March of 1972.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Rehman, Shahidur (May 1999) [1999], "§Dr. A. Q. Khan: Nothing Succeed like Success", Long Road to Chagai, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Printwise Publications, p. 160, ISBN 9698500006 
  11. ^ Khan's Achievements
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Usman Shabbir (May 2004). "Remembering Unsung Heroes:§A.Q. Khan came on board". Pakistan Military Consortium and http://www.pakdef.info/. The Pakistan Military Consortium. http://www.pakdef.info/nuclear&missile/munirahmad1.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d "The Wrath of Khan - Magazine". The Atlantic. 2004-02-04. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200511/aq-khan/3. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  14. ^ a b c d e History Commons (Updated). "Profile: Abdul Qadeer Khan". History Commons. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=abdul_qadeer_khan. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Nayar, Kuldip. "Do not give importance to Dr. A.Q. Khan". Kuldip Nayar (only available in Urdu). Kuldip Nayar. http://criticalppp.com/archives/1425. 
  16. ^ a b c d [with Sultan Bashir Mahmood]. Edward Nasim. Nawai-e-Waqt Media Network (NWMT). Captail Studios, Islamabad. July 23, 2009. 0:30 minutes in.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Causar Nyäzie (May 1994) [1994], "§9: The Reprocessing Plant—The Inside Story", [1994 Last days of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto], 1, 1 (1 ed.), Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Maulana Causar Nyazie and Sani Panwjap, pp. 55–56, ISBN 9698500006, archived from the original on 2011, http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:wzM8bvjZK3MJ:www.bhutto.org/Acrobat/Last%2520Dayf%2520of%2520Premier%2520Bhutto.pdf+Last+days+of+Premier+Bhutto&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjckwrTw4dvTbVQ2FEflsRU20aldSdvHTlXvKXEg4jkiZqdwZrD_yaOBO8SkqEM8Dv-f2TL8N6Tri_NNszXlQJ_35yornnzkagXTmrJvjakcy984S3LgbVKQUDXLgEm9WGwFCWf&sig=AHIEtbQ8JmT-OzGeBtHj-U1-gM8pY0SJPA 
  18. ^ "Zulfikar Ali Bhutto". Historycommons.org. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=zulfikar_ali_bhutto_1. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
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  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n [Talk Special]. Hamid Mir. Geo Television Network. Geo Television Islamabad Studies, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory. May 3, 2004. 1:00 minutes in.
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  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Azam, PhD (Political Science), Rai Muhammad Saleh (June 2000). "Where Mountains Move: The Story of Chagai: §Kirana-I". Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam, PhD, Professor of Political Science at the Sargodha University.. Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam, PhD (political science), The Nation, Defence Journal, and the Pakistan Military Consortium. http://www.pakdef.info/nuclear&missile/wheremountainsmove.html. Retrieved June 2011. 
  23. ^ Khan, Shaukat Hameed (28-04-2007). "Munir Ahmad Khan: A negotiator and healer". Pakistan Military Consortium. Dr. Shaukat Hameed Khan, Director Optic Labs PAEC (1985-2001), Founding director of the Laser Group (PAEC) from 1969-1981.. http://www.pakdef.info/nuclear&missile/memorial_munirahmed.html. Retrieved 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Ramchandran, R. (May. 07, 1999). "Pakistan's ballistic response". India's National Magazine from the publishers of The Hindu. R. Ramchandra and the Hindu. http://www.hindu.com/fline/fl1609/16090290.htm. Retrieved 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c Hoodbhoy, Pervez (2001). "Chagai-II: The Plutonium Bomb". Federation of American Scientists and Pakistan Atomic Scientists Foundation. Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/nuke/. Retrieved 2011. 
  26. ^ Pakistan's debriefed scientist: Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. ARY Digital Network. ARY Islamabad Station, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory. May 12th of 2009. 0:30 minutes in.
  27. ^ Armstrong, David; Joseph John Trento, National Security News Service. America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise. Steerforth Press, 2007. p. 165. ISBN 1586421379,9781586421373. 
  28. ^ "Eye To Eye: An Islamic Bomb". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3483035n&tag=mncol;lst;3. 
  29. ^ http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Lankan-Muslims-in-Dubai-supplied-Nmaterials-to-Pak-A-Q-Khan/514870/
  30. ^ "On the trail of the black market bombs". BBC News. 12 February 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3481499.stm. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dr. G D Alam Interview with Daily Asas". Daily Asas. http://www.pakdef.info/forum/showthread.php?12746-Dr.-G-D-Alam-Interview-with-Daily-Asas-and-Lashkar-1998. 
  32. ^ (Rahman 1998, pp. 59–60)
  33. ^ (Rahman 1998, pp. 60)
  34. ^ (Rahman 1998, pp. 50)
  35. ^ a b c d e "Interview of Dr.Samar Mubarak-Head of Pakistan Missile Programme". Hamid Mir. http://oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/4167731/. 
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h Khan, Abdul Qadeer (June 2010) [2010], "How we developed the programme" (in English and Urdu), Sehar Honay Tak (Until Sunrise), 1, 1, Islamabad, Pakistan:: Ali Masud books publication, p. 158, ISBN 9698500006 
  37. ^ Kahuta, Khan Research Laboratories, A.Q. Khan Laboratories, Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL), Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  38. ^ a b c d e f Kan, Shirley A. (2009). "§A.Q. Khan's nuclear network". China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy issues. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service (CRS): Congressional Research Service (CRS). pp. 5–6. ISBN Congressional Research Service (CRS). 
  39. ^ Libya Renounces Weapons of Mass Destruction
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Fitzpatrick, Mark (2007). "§Dr. A. Q. Khan and the rise and fall of proliferation network". Nuclear black markets. London, United Kingdom: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). ISBN 978-086079-201-7. 
  41. ^ "Documents Indicate A.Q. Khan Offered Nuclear Weapon Designs to Iraq in 1990: Did He Approach Other Countries?" by David Albright and Corey Hinderstein (4 February 2004).
  42. ^ John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe: Senior Pakistani Army Officers Were Aware of Technology Transfers, Scientist Says", Washington Post, 3 February 2004.
  43. ^ a b c d e Bill Powell and Tim McGirk, "The Man Who Sold the Bomb; How Pakistan's A.Q. Khan outwitted Western intelligence to build a global nuclear-smuggling ring that made the world a more dangerous place", Time Magazine, 14 February 2005, p. 22.
  44. ^ Malaysia Today Article
  45. ^ Craig S. Smith, "Roots of Pakistan Atomic Scandal Traced to Europe", New York Times, 19 February 2004, page A3.
  46. ^ David Rohde and David Sanger, "Key Pakistani is Said to Admit Atom Transfers", New York Times, 2 February 2004: A1.
  47. ^ "President Announces New Measures to Counter the Threat of WMD"\, address by President George W. Bush at the National Defense University, 11 February 2004.
  48. ^ Ron Moreau and Zahid Hussain, "Chain of Command; The Military: Musharraf dodged a bullet, but could be heading for a showdown with his Army", Newsweek, 16 February 2004, p. 20.
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  50. ^ "A Q Khan did not act alone" says Hans Blix team
  51. ^ Khan's accusation of Pervez Musharraf being involved in transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, Dawn, 2008-07-05 [1]
  52. ^ a b c d Pakistani Says Army Knew Atomic Parts Were Shipped, AP Wire story in New York Times, 2008-07-05
  53. ^ Denies Pakistan's official statements that he exported nuclear secrets as a rogue agent and implicated only former government officials who are no longer living. Instead, Khan repeatedly states that top politicians and military officers were immersed in the country's foreign nuclear dealings. R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick (13 Nov 2009). "A nuclear power's act of proliferation". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111211060.html. 
  54. ^ The transfer of centrifuges for uranium enrichment to North Korea was almost certainly sanctioned by the government, according to David Albright. James Kitfield (12 March 2010). "Nuclear Smugglers Still at Work, Expert Says". National Journal, Global Security Newswire. http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100312_1208.php. 
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  62. ^ "Disgraced Pakistani scientist's health poor", Reuters, 30 October 2006.
  63. ^ "Pakistan nuclear scientist shifted to hospital on infection", IRNA, 5 March 2008.
  64. ^ "Pakistan's top nuclear scientist discharged from hospital", IRNA, 9 March 2008.
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  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (2010). "§Sehar Honay Tak: Dr. A.Q. Khan gave us the sense of security, Javed Hashmi.". In Khan, Abdul Qadeer. Sehar Honay Tak. Islamabad, Pakistan: Ali Masud books publication. pp. 1–158. ISBN 9698500006. 
  • Upadhyaya, Gopal S. (2011). "§Dr. A.Q. Khan of Pakistan". Men of Metals and Materials: My Memoires. Bloomington, Indiana, United States: iUniverse.com. p. 248pp. ISBN 9698500006. 
  • Rahman, Shahid (1998). "§Dr. A. Q. Khan: Nothing Succeed like Success". In Rahman, Shahid. Long Road to Chagai. Islamabad, Pakistan: Printwise publication. pp. 49–60. ISBN 9698500006. 
  • Fitzpatrick, Mark (2007). "§Dr. A. Q. Khan and the rise and fall of proliferation network". Nuclear black markets. London, United Kingdom: International Institute for Strategic Studies. ISBN 978-086079-201-7. 
  • Kan, Shirley A. (2009). "§A.Q. Khan's nuclear network". China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy issues. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service (CRS). pp. 5–6. ISBN Congressional Research Service (CRS). 
  • (BIIP), Bureau of International Information Programs (2005). "§A.Q. Khan and the nuclear market". In Cooney, Thomas E.; Denny, David Anthony. E=mc²: Today's Nuclear Equation. Washington, DC: United States: Judith S. Seagal. pp. 1–40. ISBN United States Department of State. 

External links

Online Books
Government offices
Preceded by
Ishfaq Ahmad
Science Advisor to the Presidential Secretariat
January 1, 2001 – 31 January 2004
Succeeded by
Atta ur Rahman

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