Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Testing Times for Indo-US Nuclear Deal

by Praful Bidwai

As the United States and India held yet another round of intensive talks this week to flesh out the landmark nuclear deal they signed in July, it became clear that they will both explore how far they can push each other for concessions that would ease Congressional approval.
Both sides are bargaining hard as they test each other's will to implement the agreement quickly. They are mobilizing their energies both in bilateral talks and through media comments.
Under the deal, the U.S. has offered a one-time exception for India in the existing global nonproliferation regime so that India can keep its nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Meanwhile, India is coming under increasing pressure to demonstrate its loyalty to a larger "strategic partnership." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh absented himself from an important meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, (SCO) this week, largely because the US views the SCO with suspicion and New Delhi does not want to antagonize Washington.
The SCO includes China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Two of these, Russia and China are nuclear powers while India and Pakistan, which have observer status at the SCO, are aspiring nuclear powers having carried out weapon tests in 1998.
Iran, which also has observer status and is accused by the West of trying to develop nuclear weapons, sent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Shanghai summit.

While Indian nuclear hawks run a spirited campaign against the deal as a "sellout" and a "coup" to defang India, an impressive number of US Nobel laureates have issued a strong statement against the agreement.

In the nuclear poker between Washington and New Delhi, two sets of issues have become critical for settling the agreement and getting it ratified by the Congress.

One set pertains to "technical," but important, questions: What kind of safeguards must India accept on its civilian nuclear program? Assuming India is allowed to import nuclear fuel, what criteria will determine how it is modified/processed, stored and/or reprocessed? What can guarantee that it will not be diverted to military uses? And under what terms the agreement can be terminated by either side?

The second issue concerns possible further nuclear testing by India. Must it sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or a bilateral agreement with the US not to conduct future tests? Or will a voluntary moratorium of the kind declared in 1998 and reiterated in the July 2005 accord do?

Ideally, the US would like India to offer something more than the July assurance so that the deal can pass relatively smoothly through the Congress: e.g. a legally binding commitment not to conduct a nuclear blast.

But India flatly rejects this. It wants to keep the moratorium voluntary. Such a moratorium can easily be rescinded. Under existing US laws, a country that conducts a nuclear test automatically attracts sanctions and forfeits civilian cooperation with the US.

These issues will figure in the coming round of talks next month. Both sides are proceeding with cautious optimism.

India's options here are extremely limited. For all practical purposes, the Manmohan Singh government cannot amend or go beyond its understanding of the nuclear deal recorded in the July 18 agreement, which notifies as "civilian" only 14 out of its 22 power reactors (under operation or construction).

However, the Bush administration may not find it possible to pilot the agreement through unless it is seen to have extracted an additional assurance from India against further tests.

New Delhi is under pressure from its nuclear super hawks to test a hydrogen (thermonuclear or fusion) bomb so as to have a powerful deterrent not just against Pakistan, but against the major nuclear powers which have such weapons. It has conducted five tests of the less powerful, but immensely destructive, fission bomb. But its May 1998 hydrogen bomb test is widely believed to have been a dud.

India, meanwhile, has opened yet another front in the negotiations. It demands that it be allowed to build a stockpile of nuclear fuel for each of its civilian reactors. This would guarantee that supply of imported fuel would continue uninterrupted.

After India's first (1974) nuclear blast, the US suspended supply of lightly enriched uranium to two of India's reactors at Tarapur. "Although the Indian government cites this as the reason for demanding the "strategic stockpile" guarantee, the real reason may be more complex," says Kamal Mitra Chenoy of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace. "India is desperately short of uranium. Its sole operating uranium mine is running out of ore and there is public opposition to opening new mines."

The current negotiations between the US and India are focused on what is called the "123 agreement," pertaining to an amendment of Section 123 of the US atomic energy act dealing with nuclear exports. This is likely to be "marked up" soon in the form of bills to be voted by both Houses. This is expected to set the stage for passing the substantive "nuclear cooperation" agreement inked last July.

The bill's passage may not be smooth. There is significant opposition to the deal in the House of Representatives and from nonproliferation experts. Indian-American groups as well as the Indian government's lobbying agencies are working furiously to garner support for the deal.
Opposition to the deal has now been joined by eminent scholars and scientists in the US As many as 37 Nobel laureates have urged the Congress not to approve the deal "in its current form" because it is a "formula for destroying American nonproliferation goals."

In a letter, supported by the pro-peace federation of American scientists, they argue that the agreement "weakens the existing nonproliferation regime without providing an acceptable substitute. Since nothing is more important to US security than blocking further proliferation and possible use of nuclear weapons, the lawmakers should withhold their seal of approval"
The laureates include the distinguished economist Kenneth J. Arrow and scientists Raul Christian Lauterbur, Alfred Goodman Gilman, Roger Guilemin and Donald A. Glaser.

Interestingly, their letter criticizes Washington's nuclear weapons doctrine too: the US cannot continue to treat nuclear weapons as "militarily useful and politically salient while expecting to stop global nuclear proliferation.The Indian nuclear deal is just one symptom of a bigger problem."

It also holds that the rapid growth of civilian nuclear power would increase the amount of fissionable material stored worldwide, and the number of facilities that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Mohammed ElBaradei has weighed in on the side of the deal, and termed it "a creative break with the past." He says it would be illogical to deny civil nuclear technology to India --a country that has "not violated any legal commitment and never encouraged nuclear weapons proliferation" and is "a valued partner and a trusted contributor to international peace and security."

"This only casts doubt on the impartiality and credibility of the IAEA as a global nuclear watchdog," holds academic and antinuclear activist Chenoy.

Who did build Pakistan's nuclear bomb?

Who did build Pakistan's nuclear bomb?

Jonathan PowerTFF Associate since 1991Comments to JonatPower@aol.com
June 21, 2006

LONDON - Whenever I introduced Munir Khan to a friend I would say light-heartedly "and this is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb" just to enjoy the pleasure of watching the reaction. Kahn himself would give a self-depreciatory smile. As Hans Blix, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world's nuclear policeman, put it to me, Khan was "a cheerful soul".

The world has been told over and over again that the father of the Pakistani bomb was A.Q. Khan, the metallurgist, who in fact ran only one part of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission whose chairman was Munir Khan. More correctly we have recently been told that Qadeer Khan secretly set up an international network to supply the likes of North Korea, Libya and Iran with blueprints and materials for the manufacture of their own nuclear weapons. This was done for his private profit.

Kahn and Kahn. Too many got the two men muddled. And this worked in Qadeer's favor. He was a man who had no compunction about claiming every bit of credit for himself and who loved to woo gullible journalists and parliamentarians who adored his tales of achievement. No wonder when he was finally exposed as a nuclear racketeer President Pervez Musharraf couldn't have him arrested. He had become a popular icon in Pakistan, untouchable.

A long and well-researched article that has just appeared in the Pakistani "Defence Journal", written by M.A.Chaudri, has usefully drawn back the curtain on the precise roles of these two men. Both foreigners and Pakistanis, he writes, "have failed to understand the underlying efforts under Munir Khan and his team of world class nuclear scientists and engineers. They developed and led the entire nuclear weapons programme including uranium mining for the bomb itself, and all related nuclear facilities, training institutions and technologies and the development of the complete nuclear fuel cycle and the still largely unknown plutonium programme."

Munir was a friend of Zulifikar Bhutto and the two of them tried unsuccessfully to persuade President Ayub Khan to build a bomb. But when Bhutto became president in 1971 he made his famous remark "we shall eat grass if necessary but build the atomic bomb" and Munir was given the green light.

Munir had been on the staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1958, head of the reactor engineering division. He developed vast international contacts and was rich in managerial and scientific experience. It was he who pushed for the refinement of domestic uranium and persuaded the French to train his scientists in enrichment know-how. Munir later recruited Qadeer who, as is well known, brought to Pakistan the drawings of centrifuge designs he had purloined from the Dutch company he had been working for. But to develop these designs to enable the successful enriching of uranium was a complicated and complex process and depended on the expertise Munir had put together in Pakistan.

All along the pathologically ambitious Qadeer was working to undermine Munir. According to Chaudhri he paid Pakistani journalists to accuse Munir of being unpatriotic and being a member of the outlawed Qadiani sect. (Earlier the Nobel prize winning physicist, Abdus Salem, had been driven out of Pakistan by a similar campaign.)

After the coup by General Zia and the hanging of Bhutto, Munir's grip was loosened. Zia, seeing Munir as a friend of Bhutto, allowed Qadeer to build up his image. Qadeer was willing, as Munir was not, to trumpet the idea of an "Islamic bomb". Munir, self-effacing to a fault, later confessed that he should have fought off Qadeer's grab for fame. Nevertheless, Munir still held the reigns when in 1983 Pakistan reached an historic milestone - the bomb was ready and secretly a "cold test" was held. (A cold test is the actual detonation of a complete bomb but instead of enriched uranium in the middle of the bomb natural uranium is substituted.) So only nine years after India's "peaceful nuclear explosion", but 15 years before it came into the open with a full nuclear test, Pakistan had its bomb.

Munir retired from the chairmanship of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission seven years before Pakistan went public with the bomb. He died in 1999 and in his later years he tried to persuade successive presidents that Qadeer was selling Pakistan's know-how for profit. But by then Qadeer was simply too powerful to move against.

Munir was no saint. He was actually chairman of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1986 to 87. Supposedly the chairman of the world's policing authority, back home he was engaged in subverting it. Presumably earlier, when he had been an important staff member, he was building up the contacts and knowledge he later milked to build the bomb at home.

The world was duped many times over by the intrigues of Pakistan's nuclear scientists and the politicians who sponsored them.

Copyright © 2006 By JONATHAN POWER

I can be reached by phone +44 7785 351172 and e-mail: JonatPower@aol.com

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Indian Proliferation

Yet another Indian is caught illegally proliferating nuclear material for the Indian nuclear program through the notorious Dubai-Highway/via UAE. And for some conspicuous reason Bush Administration insists India is a responsible state with impeccable proliferation record? But then neo-cons of the Bush Administration also insisted Iraq had WMDs and still thinks Iraqi disaster to be a success storey where Iraqis shower the American soldiers with roses, even though, Bush doesn’t believe the American soldiers have to abide by Geneva rules, so who cares if some psychopath US soldiers cold-bloodedly murder few Iraqi women and children here and there? After all, American occupiers know what is best for the Iraqis.

Similarly, so what if India will be able stockpile additional 50 nukes per year - courtesy of Indo-US nuclear deal? Uncle Bush always knows what is best for the world.


Desi charged with conspiracy

WASHINGTON: An Indian engineer has been charged by federal prosecutors in the US state of Pennsylvania with conspiring to ship graphite products to the UAE that possibly could be used for nuclear or military purposes. According to federal authorities, Manoj Bhayana, 39, worked with another person and three companies - all unnamed to conceal the origin of the graphite products sent to a trading company in the Emirates.

The engineer is accused of falsifying shipping documents indicating the graphite products were provided by a particular company when he knew they had not been. "Had these documents not been falsified, the graphite could not have been shipped from the US," American Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan was quoted as saying by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review . Some graphite materials are used in nuclear reactors.

Military uses for graphite include blocking electromagnetic waves used by the enemy to detect troops. The investigation was headed by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, which looks into crimes involving the export of "commodities that can be used for commercial purposes as well as for military purposes by adversaries or potential adversaries of the United States. Bhayana, who is not in custody, faces upto five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, if convicted.

Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1668167.cms

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Indian Air Force… a paper tiger?

Indian air force 'lacks planes'
By Nagendar Sharma BBC News, Delhi

Nearly 20% of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots are doing desk jobs because of a shortage of planes, the BBC has learnt.

Classified documents seen by the BBC show that in all about a third of the IAF's 2,500 pilots have been assigned ground and administrative duties.

Of these, 450 fit and trained pilots simply lack planes, the documents say.

Growing numbers of IAF pilots have been refused permission to quit in recent months. The Indian Air Force had "no comment" on the BBC's findings.

The IAF has about 790 aircraft in total, including 340 fighter planes.
Only half the fleet is available at any given time while the rest are being serviced, the documents show.

By 2010 the air forces' transport fleet will be reduced by nearly 40%.
The IAF, which currently has 34 squadrons, plans to reduce that number to 28 by 2013.
Poor utilisation
Some of the pilots put on ground and administrative jobs by the force spoke to the BBC.
They said the jobs they had been given contradicted claims by senior officials that pilots who wanted to leave the IAF could not do so as it would create a shortage of pilots.

"Whatever the authorities might say, the fact is that the air force is overstaffed in terms of pilots," one of the pilots, who has served in the IAF for 15 years, told the BBC.
This was despite the IAF spending millions of rupees on pilot training, he said.

Another serving pilot with more than a decade of service said: "In every air force station, you would find fully competent and medically fit pilots posted to various ground administrative jobs.
"The average utilisation rate of pilots in terms of flying hours per month is very low, as much as five to six hours a month," he added.

Earlier this year, the chief of the Indian Air Force told the BBC he was aware that some pilots wanted to leave his force, although he said the numbers were much lower than reported.
Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi put it down to India's booming civil aviation industry and the lucrative salaries being offered by commercial airlines.

The air chief marshal said he did not begrudge the high salaries being offered to his pilots by private airlines. But he said he could not release pilots unless they were not required by the IAF.

courtesy: BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/5094234.stm

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pakistani Nuclear Program 5-5

extensive research on our nuclear initiative and puts the record straight.

PART 5-5


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, in the light of the above discussion, the falsification of the country’s nuclear history must be done away with and the facts should be accepted as they are, not as they have been distorted and told to the public for many years now, in order to restore the credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and honor those who served Pakistan with impeccable honesty, selfless devotion and intense patriotic zeal, and gave Pakistan the means to safeguard her independence, despite acute resource constraints and sanctions, without using the nuclear programme for personal aggrandizement or financial corruption and who have enabled us to safeguard our honor as a nation.

As the continuing revelations of Abdul Qadeer Khan's proliferation activities show, his and his accomplices' greed and his own insatiable appetite for fame at the cost of other scientists, and his willingness to sacrifice Pakistan's security interests for personal gain are remarkable. The PAEC scientists' silence, dedication and willingness to forego glory in order to get the mission accomplished, stands in striking contrast to Dr.A.Q.Khan's behaviour. One can only hope that the people of Pakistan one day realize who their true heroes are.

Note: For feedback kindly contact at: m_a_chaudhri@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pakistani Nuclear Program 4-5

extensive research on our nuclear initiative and puts the record straight.

PART 4-5


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pakistani Nuclear Program 3-5

extensive research on our nuclear initiative and puts the record straight.

PART 3-5


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

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

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

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

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

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

"New Labs and Khushab- From Nuclear to Thermonuclear"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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