Dr.abdul Qadeer khan

Abdul Qadeer KhanAbdul Qadeer Khan (Urdu: ڈاکٹر عبد القدیر خان‎; born 1 April 1936), also known by some in Pakistan as Mohsin-e-Pakistan (Urdu: محسن پاکِستان‎, lit. “Benefactor of Pakistan”), more popularly known as Dr. A. Q. Khan, is a Pakistani nuclear physicist and a metallurgical engineer, colloquially regarded as the founder of HEU based Gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment program for Pakistan’s integrated atomic bomb project.  He founded and established the Kahuta Research Laboratories(KRL) in 1976, being both its senior scientist and the Director-General until his retirement in 2001, and he was an early and vital figure in other science projects. Apart from participating in Pakistan’s atomic bomb project, he made major contributions in molecular morphology, physical marten site, and its integrated applications in condensed and material physics.

Abdul Qadeer Khan was one of Pakistan’s top scientists,  and was involved in the country’s various scientific programs until his dismissal.  In January 2004, Khan was officially summoned for a debriefing on his suspicious activities in other countries after the United States provided evidence to the Pakistan Government, and confessed it a month later.  Some have alleged that these activities were sanctioned by the authorities, though the Pakistan government sharply dismissed the claims.   After years of official house arrest, 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.  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”

Khan was born in 1936 in Bhopal, a princely state of the British Indian Empire, into an Urdu-speaking family. 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. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the family emigrated from India to Pakistan, and settled in Karachi, West Pakistan. Khan studied in Saint Anthony’s High School of Lahore, and then enrolled at the D.J. Science Collegeof Karachi to study physics and mathematics. After making a transfer in 1956, he attended Karachi University, obtaining BSc in Metallurgy in 1960; subsequently he got the internship at the Siemens Engineering.

After the internship, he was employed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and worked as a city inspector of weights and measures in Karachi.  In 1961, he went to West Berlin to study Metallurgical engineering at the Technical University Berlin.  Qadeer Khan obtained an engineer’s degree in technology from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and a doctorate engineering in Metallurgical engineering under the supervision of Martin Brabers from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, in 1972. Qadeer Khan’s doctoral dissertations were written in German.  His doctoral thesis dealt and contained fundamental work on marten site, and its extended industrial applications to the field of morphology, a field that studies the shape, size, texture and phase distribution of physical objects. 

Research in Europe

Main articles: Nuclear power in the Netherlands and Netherlands and weapons of mass destruction

In 1972, the year he received his doctorate, Abdul Qadeer Khan through a former university classmate, and a recommendation from his old professor and mentor, Martin J. Brabers, joined the senior staff of the Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory in Amsterdam.  There, he began his studies on the high-strength metals to be used for the development of gas centrifuges.  The gas centrifuges were first studied by Jesse Beams during the Manhattan Project in the 1940s but research was discontinued in 1944. The Physics Laboratory was a subcontractor for Urenco Group, the uranium-enrichment research facility at Almelo, Netherlands, which was established in 1970 by the Netherlands to assure a supply of enriched uranium for nuclear power plants in the Netherlands.  Soon when the Urenco Group offered him to join the senior scientific staff there, Qadeer Khan left the Physics Laboratories.  There, he was tasked to perform physics experiments on uranium metallurgy,  to produce commercial-grade uranium metals usable for light water reactors.  In the meantime, the URENCO Group handed him the drawings of centrifuges for the mathematical solution of the physics problems in the gas centrifuges. Uranium enrichment is a difficult physical process, as 235U exists in natural uranium at a concentration of only 0.7%; URENCO used Zippe-type centrifuges for that purpose to separate the isotopes 235U from non-fissile 238U by spinning UF6 gas at up to 100,000RPM. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s academic and leading-edge research in metallurgy brought laurels to the URENCO Group. URENCO enjoyed a good academic relationship with him, and had him as one of its most senior scientists at the facility where he researched and studied. At URENCO, Abdul Qadeer Khan pioneering research to improve the efficiency of the centrifuges greatly contributed to the technological advancement of the Zippe centrifuges, a method that was developed by mechanical engineer Gernot Zippe in the Soviet Union during the 1940s.

1971 war and return to Pakistan

Main articles: Operation Smiling Buddha, Project-706 and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto § Father of the Nuclear weapons program

The clandestine and highly secretive atomic bomb project of Pakistan was given a start on 20 January 1972, when President (later Prime minister) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto chaired a secret meeting of academic scientists at Multan.  The winter planning seminar known as Multan meeting, the atomic bomb project was launched under the administrative control of Bhutto, and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (or PAEC) under its chairman, Munir Ahmad Khan.  Earlier efforts were directed towards the implosion-type bomb with exploration of the Plutonium route.  Prior to 1974, Khan had no knowledge of existence of country’s integrated atomic development, a controversy that highly doubts Abdul Qadeer Khan’s “father-of” claim. It was only on 18 May 1974, when he was alerted after India surprised the world with its first nuclear test (codename: Smiling Buddha), near Pakistan’s eastern border under the secret directives of Indian Premier Indira Gandhi.  Conducted by the Indian Army, it was only three years since Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in the 1971 winter war and the outcomes of the war had put Pakistan’s strategic position in great danger.  The nuclear test greatly alarmed the Government of Pakistan and the people.  Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto squeezed the time limit of the atomic bomb project from five years to three years, in a vision to evolve and derived the country’s scientific atomic project as from the “atomic capability to sustainable nuclear power”.  Sensing the importance of this test, Munir Ahmad Khan secretly launched the Project-706, a codename of a secret uranium-enrichment program under the domain of the atomic project.

Following the news about Pakistan, Khan wanted to contribute to the post-war military posture and approached the Pakistan government officials, offering to assist in Pakistan’s secret atomic bomb project through his knowledge acquired at URENCO. He insisted in joining the atomic bomb project but was dissuaded by the military scientists who considered as “hard to find” a job in PAEC as a “metallurgist”.

Undaunted, he wrote to Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, highlighting his specific experience and encouraged Prime Minister Bhutto to work on an atomic bomb using uranium. According to Kuldip Nayyar, although the letter was received by Prime minister Secretariat, Qadeer Khan was still unknown to the Government, leading Bhutto to ask the ISI to run a complete background check on Khan and prepare an assessment report on him. The ISI declared him as “incompetent” in the field of nuclear technology, based on his academic discipline. Unsatisfied with ISI’s report, Bhutto was eager to know more about him, and asked Munir Ahmad Khan to dispatch a team of PAEC’s scientists to meet him. The PAEC team including Sultan Mahmood travelled to Amsterdam and arrived at his family home at night. Discussions were held until the next day. After the team’s return to Pakistan, Bhutto decided to meet with Khan, and directed a confidential letter to him. Soon after, Abdul Qadeer Khan took a leave from URENCO Group, and departed for Pakistan in 1974.

Initiation and atomic bomb project

Main article: Project-706

In December 1974, Abdul Qadeer Khan went to Pakistan and took a taxi straight to the Prime minister Secretariat.  The session with Bhutto was held at midnight and remained under extreme secrecy.  There, Qadeer Khan met with Zulfikar Bhutto, Munir Khan, and Dr. Mübaschir Hassan, government Science Adviser.  At this session, he enlightened the importance of uranium as opposed to plutonium, but Bhutto remain unconvinced to adopt uranium instead of plutonium for the development of an atomic bomb.  Although Bhutto ended the session quickly he remarked to his friends that: “He seems to make sense.”  Early morning the next day another session was held where he focused the discussion on uranium against plutonium, with other PAEC officials presented.  Even though he explained to Bhutto why he thought the idea of “plutonium” would not work, Qadeer Khan was fascinated by the possibility of atomic bomb.  Many of the theorists at that time, including Munir Khan maintained that “plutonium and the nuclear fuel cycle has its significance”,  and Munir Khan 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 acquiring HEU fuel.   At the last session with Zulfikar Bhutto, Khan also advocated for the development of a fused design to compress the single fission element in the metalized gun-type atomic device, which many of his fellow theorists said would be unlikely to work.

Finally in 1976, he joined the atomic bomb project, and became a member of the enrichment division at PAEC. Calculations performed by him were valuable contributions to centrifuges and vital link to nuclear weapon research. He continued to push his ideas for uranium methods even though they had a low priority, with most efforts still aimed to produce military-grade plutonium. Because of his interest in uranium, and his frustration at having been passed over for director of the uranium division (the job was instead given to Bashiruddin Mahmood), Qadeer Khan refused to engage in further research and caused tensions with other researchers. He became highly unsatisfied and bored with the research led by Mahmood; finally, he submitted a critical report to Bhutto, in which he explained that the “enrichment program” was nowhere near success.

Kahuta Research Laboratories

Main articles: Engineering Research Laboratories and Kahuta Test

Bhutto sensed great danger as the scientists were split between uranium and plutonium routes.  Therefore, he called Khan for a meeting, which was held at the prime minister secretariat. With the backing of Bhutto, Qadeer Khan took over the enrichment program and renamed the project to Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL).  Abdul Qadeer Khan insisted to work with the Corps of Engineers to lead the construction of the suitable operational enrichment site, which was granted. The Engineer-in-Chief directed Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar of Corps of Engineers to work with Qadeer Khan in Project-706.  The Corps of Engineers and Brigadier Akbar quickly acquired the lands of the village of Kahuta for the project.  The military realised the dangers of atomic experiments being performed in populated areas and thus remote Kahuta was considered an ideal location for research.  Bhutto would subsequently promote Brigadier Zahid Akbar to Major-General and handed over the directorship of the Project-706, with Qadeer Khan being its senior scientist.

On the other hand, the PAEC did not forgo the electromagnetic isotope separation research and a parallel program was conducted by theoretical physicist Dr. G.D. Allam at Air Research Laboratories (ARL) located at Chaklala PAF base, though G.D. Allam had not seen a centrifuge, but only had a rudimentary knowledge of the Manhattan Project.

At first, the ERL suffered many setbacks, and relied heavily on the knowledge from URENCO brought by Qadeer Khan.  Meanwhile in April 1976, theorist Ghulam Dastigar Alam accomplished a great feat by successfully rotating the first generation centrifuges to ~30,000 RPM.  When the news reached Qadeer Khan, he immediately requested to Bhutto for G.D. Allam’s assistance which was granted by the PAEC, dispatching a team of scientists including G.D. Alam to ERL.  At ERL, Qadeer Khan joined the team of theoretical physicists headed by theorist dr. GD Allam, working on the physics problems involving the differential equations in the centripetal forces and angular momentum calculations in the ultra-centrifuges.  On 4 June 1978, the enrichment program became fully functional after Dr. G.D. Alam succeeded in separated the 235U and 238U isotopes in an important experiment in which Dr. A.Q Khan also took part.   Contrary to his expectation, the military approved to the appointment of Major-General Zahid Ali as the scientific director of entire uranium division.

In 1981, when General Akbar was posted back to combat assignments, Khan took over the operations of ERL as its interim director and senior scientist.  In 1983, his appointment as director of ERL was personally approved by President Zia-ul-Haq who renamed the ERL after him.  Despite his role Khan was never in charge of the actual development of atomic bombs, mathematical and physics calculations, and eventual weapons testing.  Outgoing General Zahid Ali recommended Munir Khan appointment as the scientific director of atomic bomb project. This appointment came as a shock to Khan and surprised many in the government and the military as Munir Khan was not known to be aligned to conservative military.    The government itself restricted to provide full scientific data of atomic projects and had him required the government security clearance and clarifications of his visits of such secret weapons development sites, which he would be visiting with senior active duty officers.

In 1984, the KRL claimed to have carried out its own nuclear cold test of a nuclear weapon, but this was seemed to be unsuccessful while PAEC under Munir Khan had already carried out another test in 1983, codenamed: Kirana-I.

PAEC’s senior scientists who worked with him and under him remember him as “an egomaniacal lightweight” given to exaggerating his scientific achievements in centrifuges.At one point, Munir Khan said that, “most of the scientists who work on the development of atomic bomb projects were extremely “serious”. They were sobered by the weight of what they don’t know; Abdul Qadeer Khan is a showman.” During the timeline of atomic bomb project, Qadeer Khan pushed his research into rigorous Theoretical Physics calculations and topics to compete, but yet failed to impress his fellow theorists at PAEC, generally at the physics community. In later years, Abdul Qadeer Khan became a staunch critic of Munir Ahmad Khan’s research in physics, and on many different occasions tried unsuccessfully to belittle Munir Khan’s role in the atomic bomb projects. Their scientific rivalry became public and widely popular in the physics community and seminars held in the country over the years.

Uranium tests: Chagai-I

Abdul Qadeer Khan (in grey suit, right of army officer), in 1998.

Main articles: Chagai-I and Chagai-II

Many of his theorists were unsure that gaseous uranium would be feasible on time without the centrifuges, since Alam had notified to PAEC that the “blueprints were incomplete” and “lacked the scientific information needed even for the basic gas-centrifuges.”  However, calculations by Tasneem Shah, and confirmation by Alam showed the possibility of improvise transformation of different centrifugal methods.  Against popular perception, the URENCO’s blueprints were based on civilian reactor technology; the blueprints were filled with serious technical errors.  Its SWU rate was extremely low that it would have to be rotated for thousands RPMs on the cost of taxpayer’s millions of dollars, Allam maintained.  Calculations and innovation came from the team of his fellow theorists, including mathematician Tasnim Shah, and headed by theorist G.D. Alam, who solved the centrifugal problems and developed powerful versions of the centrifuges.  Scientists have claimed that Qadeer Khan would have never gotten any closer to success without the assistance of Alam and others.  The issue is controversial; Qadeer Khan maintained to his biographer that when it came to defending the “centrifuge approach and really putting work into it, both Shah and Alam refused.

The rivalry between KRL and PAEC intensified when neighboring India conducted a series of tests of its nuclear bomb, codename Pokhran-II, in 1998 by the Indian Army. This triggered a great alarm and calls for its own tests were made by country’s influential political science circles. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif at that time, came under intense media and public pressure to authorize the nuclear testing program.  After the Indian nuclear weapons tests, Abdul Qadeer Khan repeatedly met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, asking for permission to test the atomic bomb in Chagai.  At the meeting, he even maintained that the tests could be performed at the controlled test site in Kahuta. But this was rebuffed by the government, which instead ordered PAEC, under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, to perform tests in Chagai due to the experience of performing the tests in the past.  When the news reached him, a furious Qadeer Khan was badly upset and frustrated with the Prime minister.  Without wasting a minute, Khan drove to Joint Staff Headquarters where he met with the chairman joint chiefs General Jehängir Karamat, lodging a strong protest. General Karamat thereupon called the Prime minister, and decided that KRL scientists, including Qadeer Khan, would also be involved in the test preparations and present at the time of testing alongside those of the PAEC.  It was the KRL’s HEU that ultimately claimed the successful detonation of Pakistan’s first nuclear devices on 28 May 1998, under codename Chagai-I.  Two days later, on 30 May, a small team of scientists belonging to PAEC, under the leadership of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, detonated a plutonium nuclear device, codename Chagai-II. The sum of forces and yields produced by devices were around ~40.0kt of nuclear force, with the largest weapon producing around 35–36kn of force. In contrast, the single plutonium device had produced the yield of ~20.0kt of nuclear force and had a much more bigger impact as compared to uranium devices.

Many of Qadeer Khan’s colleagues were irritated that he seemed to enjoy taking full cr . for something he had only a small part in, and in response, he authored an article,Torch-Bearers, which appeared in The News International, emphasizing that he was not alone in the weapon’s development.  He made an attempt to work on the Teller design for the hydrogen bomb, but PAEC had objected the idea as it went against government policy.    Known for taking full cr . of something he had only small contribution, he often got engrossed in projects which were theoretically interesting but practically unfeasible.

Proliferation of URENCO technology

See also: Atomic proliferation

Abdul Qadeer Khan had established a network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO technology to Engineering Research Laboratories.     In the 1980s, reports on negotiations between People’s Republic of China and Pakistan for the sale of (UF6) and HEU fuel surfaced in the media. The reports alleged that “A.Q. Khan had paid a visit to China to provide technical support in their nuclear program whilst aiding in building the centrifuge facility in Hanzhong province. The Chinese government offered nuclear material from their side, but Pakistan refused, calling it a “gift of gesture” to China. According to an independent IISS report, Zia had given a “free hand” to Qadeer Khan and given unlimited import and export access to him. The report showed that his acquisition activities were on the whole not supervised by Pakistan governmental authorities; his activities went undetected for several years.

Court controversy and US objections

Main article: Operation Brasstacks

Pakistan’s scientific activities rapidly attracted the attention of the outside world and quickly suspected outside assistance. Suspicions soon fell on Qadeer Khan’s knowledge obtained during his years working in the URENCO Group.  In 1983, Qadeer Khan was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by the local court in Amsterdam for attempted espionage. When the news reached to Pakistan, Barrister SM Zafar immediately traveled to Amsterdam and filed a petition at the Court. Zafar teamed up with Qadeer Khan’s old mentor professor Martin Brabers and his Leuven University to prepare evidence for the case. At the trial, Zafar and Martin argued that the technical information’s supplied by Qadeer Khan were commonly found and taught in undergraduate and doctoral physics at the university. The sentence was overturned on appeal on alegal technicality by the Court. Reacting on the suspicion of espionage, Qadeer Khan stated: “I had requested for it as we had no library of our own at KRL, at that time”. He strongly rejected any suggestion at Pakistan’s proliferation attempts and stressed: “All the research work   was the result of our innovation and struggle. 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.”

In a local interview given in 1987 he stated that: the US had been well aware of the success of the atomic quest of Pakistan. Allegedly confirming the speculation of export of nuclear technology, the Pakistan Government sharply denied all claims made by Qadeer Khan. Following this, Qadeer Khan was summoned for a quick meeting with President Zia-ul-Haq, who used a “tough tone” and strongly urged Qadeer Khan to cease any information “he’d been providing in statements, promising severe repercussions if he continued to leak harmful information against the Pakistan Government.” Subsequently, he made several contacts with foreign newspapers, denying any and all statements he had previously released. After US terminating major aid to Pakistan, Benazir government reached an understanding with the United States to “freeze” and “capped” the program toLEU which is up to 3–5%. Later, the program was restored back to 90% HEU in 1990, and on July 1996, he maintained, “at no stage was the program of producing 90% weapons-grade enriched uranium ever stopped”.

North Korea, Iran and Libya

In 2003, Libya gave up the weapons-related material including the gas-ultra centrifuges. These gas-ultra centrifuges were marked as early models that Abdul Qadeer Khan developed in the 1980s, known as PakSat-I.

The defence treaty between Pakistan and North Korea was signed in 1990 after Benazir Bhutto, Prime minister at that time, paid a state visit to the communist regime. The diplomatic relations with North Korea were established during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s period. In 1990, it was reported that the highly sensitive centrifuge technology was being exported to North Korea in exchange for missile technologies. On multiple occasions, Qadeer Khan had alleged that Benazir Bhutto had “issued clear directions” for that matter. In 1993, downloaded secret information on uranium enrichment was delivered to North Korea in exchange for information on developing ballistic missiles.

In 1987, Iran wanted to purchase a fuel-cycle technology from Pakistan, but it was rebuffed.  Zia decided that the civil nuclear co-operation with Iran was purely a “civil matter” and part of maintaining good relations with Tehran.  Zia did not further approve any nuclear deals, but Qadeer Khan secretly handed over a sensitive report on centrifuges in 1987–89.  It was only in 2003 that the nature of such agreements was made public.  The Iranian government came under intense pressure from the Western world to fully disclose its nuclear program; the country agreed to accept tougher inspections from the IAEA.  The IAEA inspection showed 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″.  The intermediary was not named but diplomats and analysts pointed to Qadeer Khan.  The Iranians turned over the names of their suppliers and the international inspectors quickly identified the Iranian gas centrifuges as Pak-1′s, the gas centrifuges invented by Qadeer Khan during the atomic bomb projects.

In 2003, the IAEA successfully dismantled Libya’s nuclear program after persuading Libya to roll back its program to have the economic sanctions lifted. The Libyan officials turned over the names of its suppliers which also included Qadeer Khan. The same year, the Bush administration launched its investigation on Qadeer Khan’s leak in 2001 and 2002, focusing on Qadeer Khan’s personal role.

Dismantlement and revelation

The Libyan government officials were quoted as saying that “Libya had bought nuclear components from various black market dealers, including Pakistan’s”.  The US officials who visited the Libyan plants reported that the gas centrifuges were very similar to the Pak-1 centrifuges of Iran.  By the time the evidence against Qadeer Khan had surfaced, he had become a public icon in the country and was the Science Adviser to the Government.  His vigorous advocacy for atom bombs and missiles became an embarrassment to the Pakistan government.  On 31 January 2004, Qadeer Khan was suddenly dismissed from his post, and the government launched a full-fledged investigation on Qadeer Khan to ostensibly “allow a fair investigation” of the allegations.  The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed “senior Pakistan government officials” as conceding that Qadeer Khan’s dismissal from KRL had been prompted by the US government’s suspicions.  On 4 February 2004, Qadeer Khan appeared on state-owned media Pakistan Television (PTV) and confessed to running a proliferation ring, and admitted to transferring technology to Iran between 1989 and 1991, to North Korea and Libya between 1991 and 1997. 

Although not arrested, the national security hearings were launched by the joint law officers from JAG Branch.  The debriefings also implicated the role of the former chief of army staff general Mirza Beg.  The Wall Street Journal quoted US government officials as saying that Qadeer Khan had told the military lawyers that “General Beg had authorized the transfers to Iran.” According to IISS reports, Qadeer Khan had had for several years security clearances over import and export operations which were largely unsupervised and undetected. Since the 1970s, Abdul Qadeer Khan’s security was tightened, and he never travelled alone, but accompanied by the secret members of themilitary establishment.

Pardon, IAEA calls, and aftermath

On 5 February 2004, President Musharraf pardoned him as he feared that the issue would be politicized by his rivals.  The constitution of Pakistan allows the President of Pakistan to issue presidential pardons.  The hearings of Qadeer Khan badly damaged the political credibility of President Musharraf and the image of the United States. While, the Pakistan media aired sympathizing documentaries, the political parties on other hand used that issue politically to the fall of Musharraf. The US Embassy had pointed out that the successor of Musharraf could be less friendly towards the United States; this restrained the United States from applying further direct pressure on Musharraf due to a strategic calculation that may led the loss of Musharraf as an ally.

Strong calls were made by many senior IAEA officials, US and European Commission politicians; have Abdul Qadeer Khan interrogated by IAEA investigators, given the lingering skepticism about the disclosures made by Pakistan regarding Qadeer Khan’s activities. All such requests were however strongly dismissed by the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the government of Pakistan, terming it as “case closed”.

In December 2006, the WMDC headed by Hans Blix, a former IAEA chief and UNMOVIC chief; said in a report that Abdul Qadeer Khan could not have acted alone “without the awareness of the Pakistan Government”. Blix’s statement was also reciprocated by the United States government, with one anonymous American government intelligence official quoting to independent journalist and author Seymour Hersh: “Suppose if Edward Teller had suddenly decided to spread nuclear technology around the world. Could he really do that without the American government knowing?”.

In 2007, the hearings were suspended when Musharraf was succeeded by General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani as chief of army staff.  Officially, all security hearings were terminated by the Chairman Joint Chiefs General Tärik Majid on November 2008.  Abdul Qadeer Khan was never officially charged with espionage activities nor any criminal charges were pressed against him.  The military maintained that the debriefings were the process of questioning Qadeer Khan to learn and dismantle the atomic ring.  The details of debriefings were marked as “classified” and were quickly wrapped up quietly following the fall of General Pervez Musharraf.

In 2008, in an interview, Qadeer Khan laid the whole blame on President Musharraf, and labeled Musharraf as a “Big Boss” for proliferation deals. In 2012, Qadeer Khan later implicated Benazir Bhutto in proliferation matters, pointing out to the fact as she had issued “clear directions in thi  regard.” Domestically it is believed by some that Qadeer Khan was made a scapegoat by President Musharraf to prove his uttermost loyalty to the West whose support was urgently and desperately needed for the survival of his presidency. It was done so to protect the names of those high-ranking military officials and civilian politicians, under whom Musharraf served in the past.

Government work and political advocacy

Controversial, Qadeer Khan was ostracized by much of the scientific community, but still quite welcome in military science circles. In 2001, Musharraf promoted Abdul Qadeer Khan to Science Adviser to the President’.

Abdul Qadeer Khan remains a popular figure and many saw him as national hero of Pakistan. He often served as Pakistan’s extreme national pride, and his long association with science bought Khan a tremendous popularity. In the late 1980s, Abdul Qadeer Khan promoted the funding of the Pakistan’s integrated space weapons project and vigorously supported, and supervised the Hatf-I and Ghauri-I program.  In a television speech in 2007, Prime minister Shaukat Aziz paid tribute to Abdul Qadeer Khan and while commenting on last part of his speech, Aziz stressed: “(…)….The services of (nuclear) scientist… Dr. (Abdul) Qadeer Khan are “unforgettable” for the country..(..)….”.  In 2012, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan announced to form a political party Movement to Protect Pakistan.

Khan secured the fellowship and the presidency of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, whose membership is restricted to scientists. Through the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Khan published two books on metallurgy and material science. Khan began to publish his articles from KRL in the 1980s, and began to organize conferences on Metallurgy by inviting scientists from all over the world. Gopal S. Upadhyaya, an Indian nuclear scientist and metallurgist as well, attended Khan’s conference in the 1980s and personally met him along with Kuldip Nayar. In Upadhyaya’s words, Khan was a proud Pakistani who wanted to show the world that scientists from Pakistan are inferior to no one in the world.

He contributed to the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology when he served as the Project-Director of this university. After the construction of institute Khan took the Professorship of Physics while also serving as the Chairman of Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science. Later, Khan helped established the Dr. A. Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering at the Karachi University.


During his time in the atomic bomb project, he pioneered research in the thermal quantum field and the condensed physics, while co-authored articles on chemical reactions of the highly unstable isotopic particles in the controlled physical system.  He 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 a nuclear testing program and defence strength through nuclear weapons. He has justified the Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence program as sparing his country the fate of Iraq or Libya.  In his recent interview, Abdul Qadeer Khan maintained that he has no regrets for what he did and maintained that:

akistan’s motivation for nuclear weapons arose from a need to prevent “nuclear blackmail” by India. Had Iraq and Libya been nuclear powers, they wouldn’t have been destroyed in the way we have seen recently…. If (Pakistan) had an   capability before 1971, we   would not have lost half of our country after a disgraceful defeat.

—Abdul Qadeer Khan, statement on 16 May 2011, published the Newsweek,

Abdul Qadeer Khan faced heated and intense criticism from his fellow theorists whom he had worked with in the atomic bomb project, most notably theorist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy.  In addition, Qadeer Khan’s false claims that he was the “father” of the atomic bomb project since its inception and his personal attacks on Munir Khan caused even greater animosity by his fellow theorists, and most particularly, within the general physics community towards Qadeer Khan.   Due to public promotion by the Pakistan media, he remains one of the best known but also most controversial scientists in the country.  He has been depicted in the media as Pakistan’s own Dr. Strangelove (commonly referred to Edward Teller) in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satirical film of the same name.

He is the recipient of the following honors:

  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1999)
  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1996)
  • Hilal-e-Imtiaz (1989)
  • Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology
  • 60 Gold medal from universities in the country.
  • University of Karachi
  • Baqai Medical University
  • Hamdard University
  • Gomal University
  • University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore
  • Dilation investigation of metallic phase transformation in 18% Ni maraging steels, Proceedings of the International Conf. on Martensitie Transformations (1986), The Japan Institute of Metals, pp. 560–565.
  • The spread of Nuclear weapons among nations: Militarization or Development, pp. 417–430. (Ref. Nuclear War Nuclear Proliferation and their consequences “Proceedings of the 5th International Colloquium organised by the Group De Bellerive Geneva 27–29 June 1985,  .ed by: Sadruddin Aga Khan, Published by Clarendon Press-Oxford 1986).
  • Flow-induced vibrations in Gas-tube assembly of centrifuges. Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology, 23(9), (September 1986), pp. 819–827.
  • Dimensional anisotropy in 18% of maraging steel,  Seven National Symposium on Frontiers in Physics, written with Anwar-ul-Haq, Mohammad Farooq, S. Qaisar, published at the Pakistan Physics Society (1998).
  • Thermodynamics of Non-equilibrium phases in Electron-beam rapid solidification,  Proceedings of the Second National Symposium on Frontiers in Physics, written with A. Tauqeer, Fakhar Hashmi, publisher Pakistan Physics Society (1988).
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1972). Advances in Physical Metallurgy (in English, German and Dutch). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Press. ISBN 969-8500-00-6.
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1983). Metallurgical Thermodynamics and Kinetics (in English, German and Dutch). Islamabad, Pakistan: The Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. ISBN 978-969-35-0821-5.
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer; Syed Shabbir Hussain, Mujahid Kamran (1997). Dr. A.Q. Khan on science and education. Islamabad, Pakistan: Sang-e-Meel Publications. ISBN 978-969-35-0821-5.


Selected research papers and patents

Nuclear and Material physics

  • Dilation investigation of metallic phase transformation in 18% Ni maraging steels, Proceedings of the International Conf. on Martensitie Transformations (1986), The Japan Institute of Metals, pp. 560–565.
  • The spread of Nuclear weapons among nations: Militarization or Development, pp. 417–430. (Ref. Nuclear War Nuclear Proliferation and their consequences “Proceedings of the 5th International Colloquium organised by the Group De Bellerive Geneva 27–29 June 1985,  .ed by: Sadruddin Aga Khan, Published by Clarendon Press-Oxford 1986).
  • Flow-induced vibrations in Gas-tube assembly of centrifuges. Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology, 23(9), (September 1986), pp. 819–827.
  • Dimensional anisotropy in 18% of maraging steel,  Seven National Symposium on Frontiers in Physics, written with Anwar-ul-Haq, Mohammad Farooq, S. Qaisar, published at the Pakistan Physics Society (1998).
  • Thermodynamics of Non-equilibrium phases in Electron-beam rapid solidification,  Proceedings of the Second National Symposium on Frontiers in Physics, written with A. Tauqeer, Fakhar Hashmi, publisher Pakistan Physics Society (1988).


  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1972). Advances in Physical Metallurgy (in English, German and Dutch). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Press. ISBN 969-8500-00-6.
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer (1983). Metallurgical Thermodynamics and Kinetics (in English, German and Dutch). Islamabad, Pakistan: The Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. ISBN 978-969-35-0821-5.
  • Khan, Abdul Qadeer; Syed Shabbir Hussain, Mujahid Kamran (1997). Dr. A.Q. Khan on science and education. Islamabad, Pakistan: Sang-e-Meel Publications. ISBN 978-969-35-0821-5.