Chagai-I Atomic Tests on May 28, 1998,.jpg
The mountain is seen raised above as the chain reaction build up by the devices.
Country  Pakistan
Test site Chagai Hills, Baluchistan Province
Period May 1998
Number of tests 5
Test type Underground tests
Device type Fission/Fusion
Max. yield Total yield 40 kilotons of TNT (170 TJ)
Previous test Kirana-I
Next test Chagai-II

The Chagai-I was a codename referring to the five underground nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan at 15:15hrs (3:15p.m. PST) in 28th May of 1998.[1] It was named Chagai-I, as the tests were conducted in the Chagai District (Baluchistan province). The Chagai-I — a nuclear test operation — was carried out in response to India's Operation Shakti nuclear tests on May 11 and May 13th of 1998. These nuclear tests resulted in a variety of economic sanctions against both Pakistan and India by a number of major states, particularly the United States and Japan. With simultaneous atomic testing of these five nuclear devices, Pakistan, thus became the 7th country in the world to successfully develop and publicly test nuclear weapons.


Birth of Pakistan's atomic weapons programme

The scientific research on atomic weapons was authorized and initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on January 20th of 1972, two weeks after the disastrous Indo-Pakistani Winter war. The nuclear deterrent development was exercised in under complete control of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who came into the political power, and assumed the control of his country, days after the recent war.[2] The Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistan 1971 Winter war was an unforgettable war and lesson to the Pakistani political and military establishment.[3] For Pakistan, it was a complete and humiliating defeat,[4] a psychological setback that came from a defeat at the hands of intense rival India. Pakistan lost half its territory, a significant portion of its economy and its geo-political role in South Asia.[3] Pakistan failed to gather any moral and foreign support even from her allies, particularly the United States and the People's Republic of China, and the Two-Nation Theory was brutally failed.[3] Since the Partition, the physical existence Pakistan seemed to be in great mortal danger and quite obviously could rely on no one but itself. The legacy of the 1971 War has left deep scars in Pakistan's civil society as well as leaving the political and military misery.[3]

Disintegration of East Pakistan played an integral role in Pakistan to developed the programme.

The 1971 Winter war had played a crucial and groundbreaking role in the hearts of Pakistani scientists who had also witnessed the war, such as Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and Dr. Abdus Salam.[5][3] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was "obsessed" with Indian nuclear efforts, orchestrated and initiated the programme after chairing a meeting at Multan.[6] The weapons research program, at an early stage, was headed by world renowned scientist and Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr. Abdus Salam, as he was the head of Theoretical Physics Group and Mathematical Physics Group at PAEC.[5] Dr. Abdus Salam, who as Science adviser to the Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, led the nuclear weapon research under his supervision and guidance until 1974.[5] In January 1972, Bhutto called nuclear engineer Munir Ahmad Khan from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to lead the program administratively while Bhutto controlled the program as the political administrative figure. Along with Prof. Salam, Munir Ahmad Khan increased the diameter of scientific research throughout the country.[7] In PAEC, Salam established research divisions and groups that took charge to carry out the physics and mathematical calculations regarding to the development of the weapon.[5]

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is widely remembered in the world as the "Father of Pakistan's atomic weapons program", for his administrative and active role in the development and initiation of the weapons program.[8] While the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's chairman Munir Ahmad Khan, is often regarded as the "technical father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program", Munir Ahmed Khan headed the scientific research program under extreme secrecy, and supervised confidential research and development for almost two decades[8]. Under Munir Ahmad Khan, the academic scientists developed the program ingeniously, and heavily contributed in their respected fields. The research to developed the atomic bomb began in a meeting called by Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdus Salam in March 1974 where mechanical engineer Hafeez Kureshi was made head of the "Wah Group".[7] A new Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) was set up to coordinate work on the various specialized groups working in PAEC on the design, development, and testing of nuclear weapons.[9]

The 1974 Indian atomic test (See Operation Smiling Buddha) at the Pokhran in 1974 spurred the Government of Pakistan picked up its speed to developed atomic weapon programs under the three to five years.[10] In July 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan who was then working as a senior scientist at the URENCO Group also joined the program, where Qadeer Khan, along with renowned military engineer Lieutenant-General Zahid Ali Akbar founded the then-Engineering Research Laboratories.[10] The ERL led the successful enrichment of Uranium in a record time.[10] The enrichment project was started in 1976, and a milestone in isotope separation was done in 1978.[10] In 1981, the ERL produces first batch of HEU fuel.[10]

On March 11, 1983, a milestone was done when PAEC led by Munir Ahmad Khan carried out the first cold test of a working nuclear device, codename Kirana-I.[11] This was followed by 24 more cold tests by PAEC in which different weapon designs were tested and improved.[11] It was the DTD that carried out the cold tests and the hot tests in 1998 at Chagai.[12] After decades of covertly building and developing the atomic program and the related atomic devices.[12] Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Näväz Scharief, tested its six underground nuclear devices in Chagai Hills.[12]

Preparation for Atomic Tests

Plans to conduct an atomic test started in 1976 when Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) research scientists frequently visiting the area to find a suitable location for an underground nuclear test, preferably a granite mountain. After a long survey, the PAEC scientists chose the granite mountain Koh Kambaran in the Ras Koh Hills range in the Chagai Division of Baluchistan in 1978. Its highest point rises to a height of 3,009 metres (sources vary). The then-martial law administrator of the province, General Rahimuddin Khan, spearheaded the construction of the potential test sites throughout the 1980s.

In March 2005, the former Pakistan Prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Pakistan may have had an atomic weapon long before, and her father had told her from his prison cell that preparations for a nuclear test had been made in 1977, and he expected to have an atomic test of a nuclear device in August 1977. However, the plan was moved on to December 1977 and later it was delayed indefinitely. In an interview with Geo TV, Samar Mubarakmand of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, has said that the team of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission developed the design of atomic bomb in 1978 and had successfully conducted a cold test after developing the first atomic bomb in 1983.[13]

The exact origin of the name is unknown, but it is often attributed to the weapon-testing laboratory leader dr. Ishfaq Ahmad as a reference to the Chagai Hills, in spite of no nuclear experiments were performed at the vicinity of this site. It is generally believed that the codename was given in the honor of the Chagai Hills in an attempt that it would not attract international and national attention of the world at where the exact tests were actually performed. On April 2010, Nawaz Sharif, at a public function to celebrate nuclear blasts, said the then-U.S President Bill Clinton offered a package of US$5 billion for not carrying out nuclear blasts and warned about imposition of ban otherwise.[14] Nawaz said that he was in Kazakhstan in a visit to meet the President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, when India tested its nuclear device.[15] The entire nation was united in favour of nuclear blasts and Mushahid Hussain was the first person who advice that nuclear blasts should be carried out in reply of Indian nuclear explosions.[16][17] In 1999, in an interview given to Pakistani and Indian journalists in Islamabad, Sharif had said: If India had not exploded the bomb, Pakistan would not have done so. Once New Delhi did so, We [Sharif Government] had no choice because of public pressure.[18]

Atomic Devices and Test Yields

Pakistani scientists pose with Koh Kambaran in the background. The PAEC team that conducted the tests were the team leader Mubarakmand (right of the man in the blue beret) and Tariq Salija, Irfan Burney, and Tasneem M. Shah. The better known Abdul Qadeer Khan of KRL is left of the man in the blue beret (who may be General Zulfikar Ali, the military administrator of the System and Combat Engineering Division of the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers.

The PAEC carried out five underground nuclear tests at the Chagai test site at 3:16 p.m. (PST) on the afternoon of May 28, 1998.[12][19] The total maximum yield of the tests was reported to be 40 kilotons of TNT equivalent, with the largest device yielding 30–35 kilotons.[20] Western seismologists estimated the yield of the largest device to be no greater than 12 kilotons, leading U.S. nuclear weapons expert David Albright to doubt Pakistani claims.[21] Following the tests, the then Prime minister Navaz Scharief addressed the nation via Pakistan's government channel PTV and congratulated the entire nation and days of celebration followed throughout Pakistan.[22][23]

Scientific data received by PAEC, it appears that Pakistan did not tested a thermonuclear device, as oppose to India.[5] According to Ishfaq Ahmad, the PAEC had no plan to developed the three-stage thermonuclear device because of the economical reasons, even though back in 1974, Riazuddin did proposed the plan to Abdus Salam, Director of Theoretical Physics Group that time.[5] From outset, the PAEC concentrated to developed smaller but tactical nuclear weapons easily installed in PAF's aircraft, naval combatant vessels, and the missiles.[24] As oppose to India's thermonuclear approach, dr. N.M. Butt, senior scientist, stated that PAEC built a sufficient numbers of neutron bombs — a battle-field weapon, which is essentially a low yield device.[24]

Development and test teams

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)

  • Ishfaq Ahmad, Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
  • Samar Mubarakmand, Member (Technical), Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Anwar Ali, Directorate of Technical Equipment (DTE).
  • Hafeez Qureshi, Head of Directorate of Technical Development (DTD)
  • N.A. Javed, Director of Directorate of Quality Assurance (DQA).
  • Irfan Burney, Director of Directorate of Technical Procurement (DTP).
  • I.A. Bhatty, Director of Directorate of Industrial Liaison (DIL)
  • Tariq Salija, Director of the Radiation and Isotope Applications Division (RIAD).
  • Muhammad Jameel, Director of Directorate of Science and Engineering Services (DSES)
  • Muhammad Arshad, the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL)

  • Abdul Qadeer Khan, Director General of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).
  • M. Nasim Khan, Director of Material Science and Engineering Division (MSE).
  • S. Mansoor Ahmed, Director of Uranium Enrichment Technology Division (UET).
  • Fakhr Hashmi, Director of Molecular-Laser Enrichment Technology Division (MLET).
  • Javed Ashraf Mirza, Director of Control and Guidance Division (CGD).
  • Tasneem M. Shah, Director of Computational Fluid Dynamics Division (CFD).

Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers (PACE)

Reaction in Pakistan

The Directorate of Technical Development of PAEC which carried out the Chagai tests issued the following statement soon after the tests:[25]

The mission has, on the one hand, boosted the morale of the Pakistani nation by giving it an honorable 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 more than 20 years back.

Through these critical years of nuclear device development, the leadership contribution changed hands from Munir Ahmad Khan to Ishfaq Ahmad and finally to Mubarakmand.

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.[26]

Effects on Science in Pakistan

On this day, Pakistani scientists earned national renowned in Pakistan, with Media of Pakistan projecting their biographies all over the country.[27] Senior scientists and engineers were invited by the numbers of academic institutes and universities to deliver lectures on mathematical, nuclear and particle physics.[27] The institutes bestowed hundreds of silver and gold medallions and honorary doctorates to the scientists and engineers in 1998.[27] Professor Abdus Salam (1926-1996) was also celebrated in Pakistan and Government of Pakistan released a commemorative stamp in the honor of Salam.[27] In 1998, the theory of electroweak and its discovery two decade ago by Salam, was also celebrated nationwide for which Abdus Salam was awarded the Physics's Nobel Prize in 1979.[27] In 1999, Government established Abdus Salam's museum in National Center for Physics, where his contribution to scientific programs and efforts were publicly recorded and televised.[27] The May 28th has been officially declared as Youm-e-Takbeer (Day of Greatness) to commemorate and remembrance of the first five tests that were carried out in May 28, and as well as National Science Day in Pakistan to honor and remembrance the scientific efforts led by scientists to developed the devices.[28] The day was officially signed by the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif. The day is celebrated by giving awards (such as Chagai-Medal) to various individuals and industries in the field of science and industries.[29] The Nawaz Sharif Government also established the Chagai-I Medal and it was first awarded to the scientists of Pakistan in 1998 who were witnessed the tests.[30] The graphite mountains are visibly shown in the gold medallion and equal ribbon stripes of yellow, red and white.[30]

Global Reactions

Pakistan's tests were condemned by the international community.[31] The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1172 condemning the Indian test and that of Pakistan's. Brazil declared that it "deplores" Pakistan's decision to carry out the tests. In an official statement on May 28, 1998, the French Foreign Ministry denounced India's five nuclear tests.[31] French President Jacques Chirac implored Pakistan to abstain from further testing. Iran, Pakistan's strategic ally also criticized the tests, with a formal statement by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi expressing deep concern at Pakistan's nuclear proliferation. Robin Cook, Britain's foreign secretary, expressed dismay at the tests. Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, deplored the tests saying that "they exacerbate tension in an already difficult relationship".

The United Nations Security Council condemned Pakistan's five nuclear tests. "The council strongly deplores the underground nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan despite international calls for restraint," said a statement from Kenya's Njugumu Moses Mahugu, president of the 15-member council. While France, Israel, and Russian globally supported Indian's stand on testing nuclear devices. Pakistan founded difficult to gather support even from its long term allies. Pakistan's strategic allies Turkey, Germany, and People's Republic of China did not supported Pakistan while neither issued any statement. The tests brought Pakistan in an extensive Foreign policy deadlock, with no foreign support was found. Pakistan, since 1971 disaster, failed to gather any support and a Foreign policy turmoil continued until Navaz Sharif was deposed in 1999.

At a news conference May 28, 1998, United States President Bill Clinton condemned Pakistan's nuclear tests saying, "I deplore the decision." He also promised to reprimand Islamabad with the same sanctions the United States has imposed on India." Clinton also signed off on economic sanctions against Pakistan that prohibited billions of dollars in loans from multilateral institutions.[31]

NATO said that the tests were a "dangerous development" and also warned of sanctions.[32]

Economic effects

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1172 condemning the Indian test and that of Pakistan's. United States, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Canada, and International Monetary Fund, imposed economical sanctions on Pakistan. The Japanese government had called its Ambassador from Pakistan, and suspend its foreign relations with Pakistan.[33] During the time of nuclear testing, it was reported that Pakistan had only $1 Billion in its national treasure, and India had reported by be $29Billion in its State Bank.[33] By comparing to Pakistan's economy, the sanctions imposed by Resolution 1172, was exerted only with marginal effects on India’s economy and technological progress. The IMF had suspend $3Billion aid to Pakistan, and the country's economy was near facing the serious economic default.[33] Sartaj Aziz, an economist and Foreign Minister, and his economics team then briefed Nawaz Sharif that if the economy reaches to the financial default, the terms for the CTBT and NPT would be exercised more tougher on Pakistan, if Pakistan seeks a Bailout plan from the World Bank, the IMF, and the Asian Development Bank, or even the United States.[33]

The economy was already deteriorated, Aziz's team was quickly taking the steps to control the economy.[33] Prime minister Sharif ordered his Finance minister, Sartaj Aziz, to freeze the low foreign exchange reserves.[33] Aziz then asserted that such act would lead to an extreme financial default. Insead, Aziz offered the investors to sell their shares at rate of 46PKR, which was 2PKR was more that time, to the Government in order to avoid the financial default.[33] This resulted in improving the control of the economy and Nawaz Sharif government then gained the control of the economy.[33] Sharif then suspended his capitalist policies and made a move to introduced the socialist economics policies, previously introduced by former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1970s.[33] Sartaz Aziz was replaced by Sharif as he opposed Sharif's plans to divert an economic recession by taking such steps.[33] Aziz was made Foreign minister and was succedeed by Dr. Ishaq Dar, a career professor of economist who took this daunting charge.[33]

In all, the United States had suspend the economical aid to the Pakistan, but continued the limited economical aid to Pakistan on humanitarian basis.[33] Increasingly, the composition of assistance to Pakistan shifted away from grants toward loans repayable in foreign exchange.[34] All new U.S. additional economic assistance to Pakistan was suspended in May 1998.[34] The sanctions were lifted by President George W. Bush after Pakistan President General Musharraf allied Pakistan with the U.S. in its war on terror.[34] Having improved its finances, the government refused further IMF assistance, and consequently the IMF program was ended.[34]

Historical Overview

  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime minister and colloquially known as the father of nuclear weapons programme.
  • Navaz Sharif, Pakistan's Prime Minister at that time,
  • Abdus Salam, embarked the nuclear weapons program and director of Theoretical Physics Division
  • Riazuddin, designer of Pakistan's thermo-nuclear devices.
  • Asghar Qadir, led mathematical calculations involved in the nuclear devices.
  • Munir Ahmad Khan, technical director and developed Pakistan's nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear weapons and energy programs.
  • Ishfaq Ahmad, nuclear weapon designer and the Chairman of PAEC at that time.
  • Abdul Qadeer Khan, developed the Centrifuge technology used in enriching uranium hexafluoride gas for Pakistan.
  • Samar Mubarakmand, Director of Fast-Neutron Physics Group and supervised the atomic tests at Chagai
  • Operation Shakti – India's nuclear test on May 11, 1998
  • Chagai-II- Pakistan's second nuclear test on May 30, 1998
  • Pakistan and Nuclear Weapons
  • List of countries with nuclear weapons

External links


  1. ^ The News International (May 29, 2008). "Yaum-e-Takbeer celebrated across country". 
  2. ^ Shahidur Rehman, Long Road to Chagai, A Man in Hurry for the Bomb, pp21-23,Printwise Publications, Islamabad, ISBN 969-8-5000-06
  3. ^ a b c d e Haqqani, his excellency and state [Pakistan] Ambassador to the United States of America (USA), Hussain (2005), "Chapter 3§The old and New Pakistan", Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, 1 (1 ed.), Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: United Book Press., pp. 87–157, ISBN 0-87003-223-214-3, 978-0-87003-214-1, 
  4. ^ Coggin, Dan (Monday, 27 December 1971), "The World: India: Easy Victory, Uneasy Peace", Time magazine: 1/5, archived from the original on October 20th of 2009,,9171,905593-1,00.html, retrieved October 20, 2009 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Rehman, Shahid-ur (1999), "Chapter 5§The Theoretical Physics Group: A Cue to Manhattan Project?", Long Road to Chagai:, 1 (1 ed.), Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Printwise Publications, pp. 55–101, ISBN 9698500006 
  6. ^ Stengel, Richard (Monday, June 3, 1985), "Who has the Bomb?", Time magazine: 7/13, archived from the original on June 3, 1985,,9171,957761-7,00.html, retrieved February 23, 2011 
  7. ^ a b Khan, former chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Munir Ahmad; Munir Ahmad Khan (November 24, 1996.). "Salam passes into History" (in English). The News International (Karachi, Sindh Province: Jang Group of Newspapers): pp. 1–2. 
  8. ^ a b (IISS), International Institute for Strategic Studies (2006). "Bhutto was father of Pakistan's Atom Bomb Program". International Institute for Strategic Studies. Retrieved 2011. "Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the father of Pakistan's atomic weapon programme, while Munir Ahmad Khan was referred as technical father of the program." 
  9. ^ Shahidur Rehman, Long road to Chagai: §The Group at Wah, pp75-80, [ISBN]
  10. ^ a b c d e Rehman, Shahid-ur (1999), "Chapter 6§Dr. A. Q. Khan: Nothing Succeed like Success", Long Road to Chagai:, 1 (1 ed.), Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: PB, pp. 49–60, ISBN 9698500006 
  11. ^ a b Mubarakmand, former Technical member and former director of Fast-Neutron Physics Group, Samar; Samar Mubarakmand (2004). "Pakistan became nuclear state in 1983" (in English). The News International (Karachi, Sindh Province: Jang Group of Newspapers): pp. 1–2. 
  12. ^ a b c d Azam, Rai Muhammad Saleh (2000). "When Mountains Move – The Story of Chagai: The Road to Chagai". The Nation. The Nation and Pakistan Defence Journal. Retrieved 2011. 
  13. ^ Unknown (May 28, 2005). "Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): Pakistan Nuclear Weapons". Global Security. Retrieved 2010. 
  14. ^ "US offered $5b against nuclear blasts: Nawaz", The News International, May 28, 1998, 
  15. ^ "America Offered 5Billion Dollars against the Atomic Tests", Jang Group of Newspapers: 1, Friday, May 28, 2010, Jamadi-us-Sani 13, 1431 A.H., 
  16. ^ Geo News. "GEO Pakistan:US offered $5b against nuclear blasts: Nawaz". 
  17. ^ "GEO Headlines: America Offers $5Billion against atomic blasts" (in Urdu). GEO News. 
  18. ^ "Sweeping India off its feet" (in English (British)). The Indian Express (Indian Express Group: Indian Express Group): p. 1. Wednesday, August 3, 2005. Retrieved 2011. 
  19. ^ Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program – 1998: The Year of Testing Carey Sublette,
  20. ^ (December 11, 2002). "Pakistan Nuclear Weapons". 
  21. ^ Albright, David (July 1998). "Pakistan: The Other Shoe Drops". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc.) 54 (4): 24–25. ISSN 0096-3402. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ BBC (May 28, 1998). "BBC on This Day May 28, 1998". BBC. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  24. ^ a b Raja Zulfikar (May 28, 1998). "Pakistan builds a neutron bomb". nuclnet. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  25. ^ nuclear weapon archive (December 10, 2001). "1998: The Year of Testing". 
  26. ^ M.A. Chaudhri,"Pakistan's Nuclear History: Separating Myth from Reality," Defence Journal (Karachi), May 2006.
  27. ^ a b c d e f "A Science Oddyssey: Pakistan's Nuclear Emergence". 19 October 1998. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  28. ^ "13th Youm-e-Takbeer to be observed today". 28 May 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Youm-e-Takbeer being marked today". 28 May 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  30. ^ a b "Republic of Pakistan: Chagai-I Medal". 26 April 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  31. ^ a b c[dead link]
  32. ^ "1998: World fury at Pakistan's nuclear tests". BBC News. May 28, 1998. 
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rashid, Senator Pervez (Monday, June 13 of 2011). "In response to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Dr. Akram Sehgal". Senator Pervez Rashid, Senator of Pakistan Muslim League (N) to the Senate Secretariat of Pakistan.. Senator Pervez Rashid, (note:Text only available in Urdu). Retrieved 2011. 
  34. ^ a b c d Pakistan ends 15-year ties with IMF; Daily Times, 7 September 2004) Pakistani Newspaper Article, 2004

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