Abdul Qadeer life and biography

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Abdul Qadeer biography

Date of birth : 1936-04-27
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Bhopal, British India
Nationality : Indian
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2010-04-29
Credited as : Pakistani nuclear scientist/metallurgical engineer, ,

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Abdul Qadeer Khan (born April 27, 1936), known as A. Q. Khan, is a Pakistani nuclear scientist and metallurgical engineer, widely regarded as the founder of gas-centrifuge enrichment technology for Pakistan's nuclear program. His middle name is occasionally rendered as Quadeer, Qadeer or Gaudeer, and his given names are usually abbreviated to A.Q. Khan is perhaps better known in much of the world for involvement in acquiring critical nuclear technology designs and using them to build Pakistan's gas-centrifuge program.

In interviews from May through July 2008, Khan recanted his previous confession of his involvement with Iran and North Korea. He said President Pervez Musharraf forced him to be a "scapegoat" for the "national interest". Khan accuses the Pakistan Army and President Musharraf of proliferating nuclear arms. He said centrifuges were sent from Pakistan in a North Korean plane loaded under the supervision of Pakistani security officials. He also said that he had traveled to North Korea in 1999 with a Pakistani Army general to buy shoulder-launched missiles from the government there.

Islamabad High Court on February 6, 2009 declared Khan as a free citizen of Pakistan with freedom of movement inside the country. The verdict was rendered by Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Aslam. In September 2009, expressing concerns over the Lahore High Court’s decision to end all security restrictions on Khan, the United States has warned that Dr.Khan still remains a ’serious proliferation risk’.

He graduated from the University of Karachi before moving to Europe for further studies in West Germany and Belgium.
In 1972, the year he received his D. Eng., Khan joined the staff of the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. FDO was a subcontractor for URENCO, the uranium enrichment facility at Almelo in the Netherlands, which had been established in 1970 by the United Kingdom, West Germany, and the Netherlands to assure a supply of enriched uranium for the European nuclear reactors. The URENCO facility used Zippe-type centrifuge technology to separate the fissionable isotope uranium-235 out of uranium hexafluoride gas by spinning a mixture of the two isotopes at up to 100,000 revolutions a minute. The technical details of these centrifuge systems are regulated as secret information by export controls because they could be used for the purposes of nuclear proliferation.

In May 1974, India carried out its first nuclear test, codenamed Smiling Buddha, to the great alarm of the Government of Pakistan. Around this time, Khan having a distinguished career and being one of the most senior scientists at the nuclear plant he worked at, had privileged access to the most restricted areas of the URENCO facility as well as to documentation on the gas centrifuge technology. India's surprise nuclear test and the subsequent Pakistani scramble to establish a deterrent caused great alarm to the Pakistani government as well as the Pakistani diaspora including individuals like Khan. A. Q. Khan believed that the Buddha had smiled in anticipation of Pakistan's death.

A subsequent investigation by the Dutch authorities found that he had passed highly-classified material to a network of Pakistani intelligence agents; however, they found no evidence that he was sent to the Netherlands as a spy nor were they able to determine whether he approached the Government of Pakistan about espionage first or whether they had approached him.

In 1976, Khan and Lieutenant-General Zahid Ali Akbar Khan were put in charge of Pakistan's uranium enrichment program with the support of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The uranium enrichment program was announced in 1972 and the work itself began in 1974 by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as Project-706 under the guidance of Munir Ahmad Khan, Khan joined the project in the spring of 1976. Khan took over the project from another Pakistani nuclear engineer, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood in the same year. In July of that year, he took over the project from PAEC and re-named the enrichment project as the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) at Kahuta, Rawalpindi, subsequently, renamed the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) by the then President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. The laboratories became the focal point for developing a uranium enrichment capability for Pakistan's nuclear weapons development programme.

Khan initially worked under Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), headed by Munir Ahmad Khan, for a short period. But the pair fell out, and in July 1976, Prime Minister Bhutto gave Khan autonomous control of the uranium enrichment project, reporting directly to the Prime Minister's office, which the arrangement has continued since Khan founded the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) on 31 July 1976, with the exclusive task of indigenous development of Uranium Enrichment Plant. Within the next five years the target would be achieved.

Kahuta Research Laboratories, led by Khan and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which was led by Munir Ahmad Khan created a tough institutional rivalry against each other. Khan was also a staunch critic of Munir Ahmad Khan's work. The Monthly Atlantic described Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdul Qadeer Khan as a "mortal enemy" of each other. According to the The Monthly Atlantic, A.Q. Khan tried to convince Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that Uranium route would be faster than Munir Ahmad Khan's pursuit of plutonium reprocessing, then under way. However, Munir Ahmad Khan and his team of nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission believed that they could run the reactor without Canadian assistance, and they insisted that with the French extraction plant in the offing, Pakistan should stick with its original plan. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not disagree, but he saw the advantage of mounting a parallel effort toward enriched uranium and decided on the spot to place A.Q. Khan in charge.

In the early 1980s, Khan's Kahuta Research Laboratories also sought to develop nuclear weapons in competition with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and claimed to have carried out at least one cold test in 1983, but it seems that this effort did not prove to be successful since the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission led by Munir Ahmad Khan had carried out the first cold test of a working nuclear device on March 11, 1983, and in the following years continued to carry out 24 cold tests of different weapons designs. That is why the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission also conducted the 1998 nuclear tests for Pakistan at Chagai and Kharan.

According to the media reports, it said that A.Q. Khan had an extremely close and cordial relationship with President General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq and the Military of Pakistan. Khan had also maintained an extremely close relationships with the Pakistan Air Force.

Khan played an important role in the establishment of engineering universities in Pakistan. As both PAEC Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan and Ishfaq Ahmad established a nuclear physics and a nuclear engineering university, Pakistan Institute of Applied Sciences and Engineering. Khan established a metallurgy and material science institute in Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, which is known as Dr. A. Q. Khan Department of Metallurgical Engineering and material sciences. He also served as its both executive member and director there. Khan played an important and key role in establishing the Dr. A. Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering at Karachi University. Khan introduces metallurgical engineering courses in many newly-founded universities and sciences colleges in Pakistan.

Khan is no longer associated with Pakistan's atomic program. However, he is still widely seen as "Father of Pakistan's atomic program" even though he was only head of the centrifuge-based enrichment project at Kahuta and not the entire nuclear program, which was developed and run by PAEC Chairman, Munir Ahmad Khan. Khan's involvement in nuclear proliferation has shocked the entire nation and he was criticized by his peers and fellow scientists such as Pervaiz Hoodbhoy. However, Khan's debriefing heavily affected ex-President General Pervez Musharraf's popularity. It also increased Anti-American feelings among some Pakistanis. Many people in Pakistan blamed the United States for Khan's house-arrest. Many journalists and the mainstream media supported Khan and expressed their sympathies to him.

On November 12, 2008, he started writing weekly columns in The News International and Daily Jang . His columns heavily emphasis on the education and engineering disciplines. He advocated for the importance of engineering disciplines and importance of education. Khan who was accused of selling sensitive nuclear technology to other countries of the world, has gained a significant respect through his columns among in Pakistanis. Khan expressed his views on the of environmental issues. Khan is an avid supporter of Science and Technology education in Pakistan. Even though his columns heavily focused on the issues of education, Khan severely criticized Pervez Musharraf and his policies, in which he said because of his cruel domestic policies within Pakistan. The Taliban insurgency grew momentarily as well as instability in the country.

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