Abdul Qadeer Khan[note 1] (Urdu: ڈاکٹر عبد القدیر خان ; born: 1 April 1936), D.Eng, Sc.D, HI, NI (twice), FPAS; more widely known as Dr. A. Q. Khan, is a Pakistani nuclear scientist and a metallurgical engineer who served as the Director-General of the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) from 1976 till 2001. Abdul Qadeer Khan is widely regarded as the founder of HEU based Gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment programme for Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence development.
Abdul Qadeer Khan was one of Pakistan’s top scientists, and was involved in the country’s various scientific programmes until his debriefing. On January 2004, Khan was officially summoned for a debriefing on his suspicious activities in other countries after the United States provided evidences to the Pakistan Government, and confessed it a month later. After years of debriefing, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on 6 February 2009 declared Abdul Qadeer Khan to be a free citizen of Pakistan, allowing him free movement inside the country. The verdict was rendered by Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Aslam. In September 2009, expressing concerns over the Lahore High Court’s decision to end all security restrictions on Khan, the United States warned that Khan still remains a “serious proliferation risk”.
Khan was born in 1936 to a Pashtun family in Bhopal State of India (then part of the British Indian Empire). His father Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Khan was an academic who served in the Education Ministry of the British Indian Government and after retirement in 1935, he settled permanently in Bhopal State. In 1947, after the partition, the family migrated from India to Pakistan, and settled in West-Pakistan. Khan studied in Saint Anthony’s High School of Lahore, and then enrolled at the D.J. Science College of Karachi. There, he took B.Sc. in Physics and B.A. in Mathematics under the supervision of Suparco physicist Dr. Bashir Syed. In 1956, he attended Karachi University and obtained a B.S. degree in Metallurgy in 1960. To support the fees of his education, Khan was employed at Siemens Engineering where he worked as a practical trainee (junior engineer).
After graduation, he was employed by the Karachi City Government and worked as an Inspector of weight and measures in Karachi, Pakistan. In 1961, he went to West Germany to study Metallurgical engineering at the Technical University of Berlin. In 1967, Khan obtained an engineer’s degree (in Technology), an equivalent of Master of Science, from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and the Doctor of Engineering degree in Metallurgical engineering under the supervision of Martin Brabers from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1972. Khan’s doctoral dissertations were written in fluent German. His doctoral thesis dealt and contained the fundamental work in Martensite, and its extended industrial applications to the field of Morphology, a field that studies the shape, size, texture and phase distribution of physical objects
Research in Europe
In 1972, the year he received his doctorate, Khan through a former university classmate, Friedrich Tinner, and a recommendation from his old professor and mentor, Martin J. Brabers, joined the senior staff of the Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Amsterdam. At first, he was responsible for evaluating High-strength metals to be used for centrifuge components. The FDO was a subcontractor for URENCO Group, the uranium enrichment research facility at Almelo, Netherlands, which had been established in 1970 by the United Kingdom, West Germany, and the Netherlands to assure a supply of enriched uranium for European nuclear reactors. According to Khan’s deputy, Dr. Ghulam Dastigar Alam, Khan was very fluent in German, French and English languages, and the FDO administration gave him a drawing of a centrifuge machine for translation. However, Khan later joined the URENCO Group after Urenco offered him a prestigious job. Khan was made responsible for performing experiments on Uranium metallurgy and was tasked to produce commercial-grade uranium usable for light water reactors. In the meantime, the URENCO Group gave drawings of centrifuges for the solution of engineering problems that Urenco’s engineers were facing. The Urenco facility used Zippe-type centrifuge technology to separate the fissile isotopes 235U from non-fissile 238U by spinning 6UF gas at up to 100,000Rpm. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s academic and leading-edge research in metallurgy brought great laurels to Urenco Group. In a short span of time, Khan earned a great reputation there, and enjoyed a distinguished career at Urenco. One of his greatest achievements was to enhance and improve the efficiency of the gas-centrifuges, which he did all alone. URENCO enjoyed a great academic relationship with Dr. Khan, and Urenco had Khan as one of the most senior scientists at the research facility where he worked and researched. URENCO granted Khan a great privileged to have access to the most restricted areas of Urenco facility as well as permitting him to have access to the most restricted and highly classified documentation on the gas centrifuge technology. During this time, Urenco had granted this privilege to few of the senior academic scientists who were working in the highly secretive and classified research projects.
Uranium enrichment is an extremely difficult process, as 235U exists in natural uranium at a concentration of only 0.7%; for the purposes of most power-generation reactors the concentration of that isotope has to be increased about fivefold, to at least 3%. The trick is to isolate and shed a similar isotope known as 238U which is barely 1% heavier. By spinning at very high speeds—electrically driven to 100,000 Rpm, in perfect balance, on superb bearings, in a vacuum, linked by pipes to thousands of other units doing the same—this is what the centrifuge achieves. Much of the technical details of these centrifuge systems are regulated as secret information and subject to export controls because they could be used for the purposes of proliferation, and useful to make weapon-grade fuel for weapon making purposes. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was responsible for improving the efficiency of the centrifuges used by Urenco, and greatly contributed to the technological advancement of the Zippe technology, a technology that was developed by Gernot Zippe, a mechanical engineer, in the Soviet Union during the 1940s.
Uranium Enrichment Programme
Pakistan’s atomic weapons research program started on January 20, 1972, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then Chief Martial Law Administrator, chaired a secret meeting of academic scientists at Multan. Known as the Multan meeting. The formal research was launched under the administrative control of Bhutto, and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (or PAEC) under its Chairman, Munir Ahmad Khan, was exploring the Plutonium route, at first, to developing an atomic device. In 1974, Indian Premier Indira Gandhi gave verbal authorization to the scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to conduct a test of a device that they had built, and the preparation was completed under extreme secrecy. On May 18, 1974, India conducted a surprise nuclear test, codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, near the Pakistan’s eastern border. The test was conducted at the long-constructed Indian Army base, known as Pokhran Test Range (PTR). It was only three years since Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in the 1971 Indo-Pak Winter war and the Winter war had put Pakistan’s mortal existence in great danger. This nuclear test, Operation Smiling Buddha, greatly alarmed the Government of Pakistan. In Pakistan, this test was greatly sensed and saw as last anticipation of Pakistan’s death. Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto quickly scrambled to establish a sustainable nuclear weapons capability in the shortest time possible. Sensing the importance of this test, Munir Ahmad Khan secretly launched the Project-706, a secret uranium enrichment programme, under its first technical director Sültan Bashiruddin Mahmood.
During this time, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was working in a weapon-grade centrifuge production facility in the Netherlands as senior scientist. As he learned the news, dr. Abdül Qadeer Khan went to the Pakistan Embassy in Amsterdam and approached Pakistan government officials where he offered to help with Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence programme. At first, he approached a pair of Pakistan military scientists who were in the Netherlands on business. At the Pakistan Embassy, the military scientists discouraged him by saying: “As a metallurgical engineer, it would be a hard job for him to find a job in PAEC (Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission)”.
Undaunted, Abdul Qadeer Khan wrote to Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, saying, “he [Abdul Qadeer Khan] sets out his experience and encourages Prime Minister Bhutto to make an atomic bomb using uranium, rather than plutonium, the method Pakistan is currently trying to adopt under the leadership of Munir Ahmad Khan“. As letter was received by Prime minister Secretariat, because Khan, at that time was unknown to the Government, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto asked the ISI to run a complete background check on Khan and prepare an assessment report on Khan. The ISI submitted its report and recommending Khan as an incompetent scientist in the field of nuclear technology based on his academic discipline. However, Bhutto was unsatisfied with ISI’s report and was eager to known more about Khan, therefore Bhutto asked Munir Ahmad Khan to dispatch a team of PAEC’s scientists to meet Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Munir Ahmad Khan chose Sültan Bashiruddin Mahmood as head of the team and the team met with Dr. Khan at night and the discussion was held until the next day. After the meeting, the team returned to Pakistan and Bhutto decided to meet Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan immediately. A letter was directed, and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan took a leave from Urenco Group.
Joining the Project-706
In December 1974, Abdul Qadeer Khan traveled to Pakistan and immediately went to Prime minister Secretariat without even stopping at the local hotel. The meeting was held at midnight and remained under extreme secrecy with only few knowing about it. There, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan met with Zulfikar Bhutto, Munir Ahmad Khan, and dr. Mübascher Hassan, Bhutto’s Science Adviser. During the meeting, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan enlightened the importance to Uranium-based device, but was unable to convince Bhutto to adopt uranium as the best approach rather than plutonium to make an atomic device. As Munir Ahmad Khan was a plutonium technologist and an expert in nuclear fuel cycle, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not agree to halt the plutonium efforts but moved to begin a parallel uranium program. After dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan took off from the Prime minister Secretariat, Zulfikar Bhutto quietly told with his close friends Munir Ahmad Khan and Mübascher Hassan that, “He [Abdul Qadeer Khan] seems to make sense.” Next day early morning, another meeting was held where dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan persuaded again to Bhutto and tried to convince him to halt the plutonium pursuit. In a meeting with Bhutto, Munir Ahmad Khan and senior academic scientists and engineers at PAEC believed that they could run the reactor without Canadian assistance, and they insisted that with the French extraction plant in the offing, Pakistan should stick with its original plan. Bhutto did not disagree, but saw the advantage of mounting a parallel effort toward enriched uranium.
Before Abdul Qadeer Khan’s joining, the uranium route was considered secondary route, and most efforts were put to develop a device with weapon-grade plutonium. In spring of 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan joined the programme, and worked initially under Sultan Mahmood. However, after Mahmood briefed Khan on the project, the pair disagreed, and Abdul Qadeer Khan became highly unsatisfied with the work led by Mahmood. He wrote a letter to Munir Ahmad Khan, later directed to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, where he expressed his discontent with Mahmood and saying that he wanted to work independently.
Bhutto sensed a great danger as the scientists were split between uranium and plutonium routes. Therefore, Bhutto called Abdul Qadeer Khan for a meeting which was held at the Prime minister Secretariat. With backing of Bhutto, Khan took over the enrichment programme and re-named the project to Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL). Abdul Qadeer Khan disliked the idea of PAEC getting involved in his work; instead he advocated for Corps of Engineers to lead the construction of the suitable operational enrichment plant. The E-in-C chose Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar, a system engineer notable for leading the construction of GHQ, Pakistan Army’s Combatant Headquarter. Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar chose the city of Kahuta near Rawalpindi, Punjab Province, for the operational enrichment facility. Kahuta, at that time, was a remote and dangerous area with mountains covered the entire region. And, because the experiments were too dangerous to perform in public area, Brigadier Zahid chose Kahuta as best place to perform the dangerous experiments where public life was no where to be found. With promotion awarded by Bhutto, Zahid Ali Akbar was made Major-General, and served as the first Director of the Project-706. Major-General Akbar designed the entire city of Kahuta and as well the enrichment plant, facility and the research institute near by. During 1970s, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan worked at Engineering Research Laboratories as senior scientist and was responsible for established the laboratories and the enrichment chambers there. Major-General Akbar’s office was shifted at the General’s Headquarter (GHQ) and in his capacity, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan served as intern director of the Engineering Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL). In 1980, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was officially made Director-General of the ERL, and he would later on served his role as more businessman than the scientist. In 1983, Pakistan’s Chief Martial Law Administrator and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq subsequently renamed it from Engineering Research Laboratories to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL). At first the facility suffered many sat back, but after PAEC sent its scientists to ERL for a time being, the enrichment programme became fully functioned by the early 1981.
The Scope of Research
In spite of Khan’s initiation and leading the uranium program, the PAEC led by Munir Ahmad Khan remained in charge of all the other critical steps of the nuclear fuel cycle, starting from uranium exploration, processing, conversion, fuel fabrication and reprocessing- both in the pre and post enrichment phases as well as the plutonium, nuclear weapons and civil and military reactors programs. From the beginning, Abdul Qadeer Khan was not involved in the designing of the nuclear weapons and including its calculations and such details were never provided to him by the government. Unlike other scientists who were generally allowed to visit country’s most classified research institute, Khan was not allowed to visit many of secret and classified sites, such as The New Laboratories where the weapon-grade plutonium and weapon designing took place. As oppose to others, Khan needed government clarifications and special permissions were required by Khan in order to visit such sites where he never visited alone and at least senior active duty officers would accompanied him.
Hence, Khan was kept in dark and was not informed by his colleagues or the government officials if cold tests were taking place in under extreme secrecy. Khan was also not invited, nor any one provided him the details, to the secret cold-test of a nuclear device, codename Kirana-I that was conducted in March 1983 by the PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan. In 1984, Abdul Qadeer Khan’s KRL claimed to carry out its own nuclear cold test of a weapon. However, this seemed unsuccessful as PAEC had already carried out the test in 1983, and would carry out 24 more cold tests of different nuclear weapon designs. In 1984, KRL had produces the first and fresh batch of weapon-grade uranium loosely based on the Zippe Type technology.
Abdul Qadeer Khan’s Kahuta Research laboratories (KRL) was initially singly focused on enrichment of natural uranium into weapon-grade uranium. Despite of international media’s reporting, neither the KRL nor Abdul Qadeer Khan, was mandated to participate or/ involved with other phases of the nuclear weapon research development, including the actual weapon designing, development and testing of weapons, which remained under PAEC. Nor was it involved in upstream activities such as uranium exploration, mining, refining and the production of Urania as well as the conversion of yellow cake into 6UF, the gaseous feedstock for the enrichment. Nor was it responsible for contributing in nuclear energy programme or the reprocessing programme, which also remained under PAEC.
Competition with PAEC
From the start, the KRL and PAEC were fierce rivals and competitors. From the beginning of the project, Abdul Qadeer Khan disliked the idea of PAEC involvement in KRL’s enrichment projects. That was the reason that Army Engineering Core had led the construction of the KRL facility under Brigadier Zahid Ali Akbar. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was a staunch critic of Munir Ahmad Khan’s work. Abdul Qadeer Khan, on many different occasions, unsuccessfully tried to remove Munir Ahmad Khan’s role in the nuclear weapons research programme. In spite of that, Munir Ahmad Khan and the PAEC provided its full support to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s work. The Atlantic Monthly described the two as mortal enemies.
In the early 1980s, KRL also sought to develop nuclear weapons and claimed to have carried out at least one cold test in 1983. This appears to have been unsuccessful. PAEC had carried out the first cold test on 11 March 1983, and in the following years conducted 24 cold tests of different weapons designs. Khan used his influenced in the government to took over the projects from PAEC and one of the notable case was in 1980, when Khan took over the Laser range-finder project which was awarded to fellow scientist dr. Shaukat Hameed Khan from PAEC. In the meantime, the KRL launched other competing weapons development projects, such as the nuclear-capable and liquid-fueled Ghauri-I programme. In early 1995, the PAEC developed the solid fueled Shaheen-I Systems. According to its scientists, the PAEC’s Shaheen missile programme was highly ambitious and ingenious. Dr. Samar Mubarakmand was the lead designer of the Shaheen missile programme.
In 1980s, KRL produced both weapons and reactor grade uranium to level the competition with PAEC. However, while PAEC developed its the programme indigenously under Munir Ahmad Khan, Ishfaq Ahmad and Samar Mubarakmand, Abdul Qadeer Khan’s team anticipated and richly contributed to the country’s first Battlefield Range Ballistic Missile (BRBM), the Hatf missile system, collaborating with the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).
1998 Atomic Testings
As the competition between KRL and PAEC was already intense, the competition became highly intensified when neighboring India conduct a series of tests of its nuclear bombs, codename Pokhran-II, in 1998 in long-constructed Indian Army Pokhran Test Range. These nuclear tests conducted by India caused great alarm and internal tension in Pakistan. Näväz Scharief, Prime minister at that time, came under intense media and public pressure to conduct its own nuclear tests. After the Indian nuclear weapons tests, Abdul Qadeer Khan repeatedly met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, trying for permission to test Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in Chagai. He proposed the idea that the tests could by carried out in the underground tunnels in Kahuta. But it was denied by the government as well as the Pakistan Defence Forces as too aggressive towards India and raging a war against India. Despite his efforts, Sharif instead chose PAEC, under Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, due to their experience of ingeniously carrying out the tests in the past.
When the news reached to the him that PAEC has been tasked with the testings, furious Khan was badly upset and frustrated with the Prime minister. Without wasting a minute, Khan reached to Pakistan Army’s Combatant General’s Headquarter (GHQ) where he met with General Jehängeer Cäramatt, Chief of Army Staff, where he lodged a strong protest and grievousness to the Chief of Army Staff. General Cäramatt then called the Prime minister Secretariat, and Prime minister decided that KRL scientists, including Dr. A.Q. Khan, would also be involved in the nuclear test preparations and present at the time of testing alongside those of the PAEC. In meantime, Scharief sought to mitigate the intense rivalry between PAEC and KRL by asking Khan to provide its enriched uranium to PAEC. Prime minister Scharief also urged both KRL and PAEC to work together in the nation’s best interest. It was the KRL’s HEU that ultimately led to the successful detonation of Pakistan’s first nuclear devices on 28 May 1998, under codename Chagai-I. Two days later, on 30 May, a small team of scientists belonging to PAEC, under the leadership of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, a plutonium nuclear device, codename Chagai-II. According to Pakistan defense analyst and retired engineer officer Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, the weapon-grade device was much more powerful than the uranium device. The yield of the device was reported to 12-20 Kt. However, in an interview with Dr. Shahid Masood of ARY Television Network, Abdul Qadeer Khan said that the even the second nuclear test was also based on Uranium-fissile fuel, though he did not provide any evidence to his claim despite the anchor urged to provide the claims.
In an interview and the thesis written in his book, Khan maintained that eye-witnessing the nuclear tests, and becoming of Pakistan as nuclear power, was his most happiest, finest, and glorified days of his life.
Proliferation of URENCO technology
Abdul Qadeer Khan then established an administrative proliferation network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO nuclear technology to Khan Research Laboratories. Abdul Qadeer Khan, partnered with Friedrich Tinner and Peter Finke, established a company to transfer Urenco technology to Pakistan, Libya, and Iran. However, the cover was blown by British MI-6, and Finke, along with unnamed ISI officer, defected to Pakistan while Tinner escaped to Libya.
On an interview given by Dr. G.D. Alam — a theoretical physicist who headed the enrichment programme, alongside with Abdul Qadeer Khan — made a confession acknowledging A.Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation work. According to Dr. Ghulam Dastigar Alam, the URENCO Group had given Abdul Qadeer Khan the drawings of centrifuges for translation, and to find out the errors in the centrifuges designs that URENCO engineers were facing. Abdul Qadeer Khan brought those drawings (blue prints) to Pakistan without notifying the URENCO Group and the Dutch government. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s stolen drawings of centrifuge machine were incomplete and incorrect. Academic scientists, such as Dr. Tasnim Shah, Dr. G.D. Alam, Dr. Qadir Hussain, Dr. Anwar Ali, had developed new and powerful version of the centrifugal machine, and Abdul Qadeer Khan had nothing to do with it. Even though it was Abdul Qadeer Khan’s tasked to figure out the problems as URENCO Group had trusted him for the solution of the problems. As the problems were fixed, Abdul Qadeer Khan began the enrichment operations in KRL and a milestone was reached in 1978 with enrichment project. In 1981, Dr. G.D. Alam and other academic scientists were transferred back to PAEC as they had developed serious disagreement with Abdul Qadeer Khan over his nuclear proliferation activities.
In 1980, a foreign government from an unknown Arab country contacted Dr. A.Q. Khan. Khan began his nuclear proliferation network and tried to include other scientists in his scheme, including Alam. The scientists had declined to cooperate with Khan. Abdul Qadeer Khan then decided to begin his independent operations in other countries. Ghulam Dastigar Alam disclosed his statement, as he said: Even until today, Dr. A.Q. Khan apart from the basics knows nothing about nuclear science and even today, he is not able to talk on technical issues.
In 2004, Samar Mubarakmand — a nuclear physicist who supervised the Chagai tests — provided further details about A.Q. Khan’s proliferation network in an interview with Hamid Mir‘s Capital Talk. Mubarakmand acknowledged that the PAEC in IAEA first became aware of A.Q. Khan’s network in 1980s, as PAEC was also a part of Libya and Iraq weapon’s inspections. When Government confronted Abdul Qadeer Khan, he simply denied the acquisitions. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan first visited Chagai on May 28. He arrived 15 minutes prior to the tests, Mubarakmand concluded. He ended his interview by saying: It was PAEC, especially the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG), that designed and developed the weapons as well as the programme. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was only tasked with the enrichment project that he had took over in 1976. If he knew how to build the designs of weapons, Iraq, Libya and Iran would have developed the weapons by now, Mubarakmand concluded.
Suspicions of outside involvement
The success development of uranium enrichment programme attracted the outside world rapidly that observers suspected outside assistance. The western intelligence agencies reported that senior Chinese technicians, from their own nuclear weapons program, had been at the facility in the early 1980s. But, due to lack of evidence, it report did not received any attention, but suspicions soon fell on Khan’s suspicious activities at Urenco Group. In 1983, Khan was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by an Amsterdam court for attempted espionage. When the news reached to Pakistan, Barrister S.M. Zafar, at his own expense, immediately traveled to Amsterdam to fight the case of Khan and filed a petition in an Amsterdam court. Zafar, teamed with Khan’s old mentor professor Martin Brabers and his universities administration, where Zafar prepared for the case. At the trial, Zafar and Martin argued that the technical informations stole by Khan are commonly found and taught in graduate and doctoral courses at the university, therefore the evidences are not strong enough to jailed Khan. After series of hearing, the sentence was later overturned on appeal on a legal technicality by Amsterdam Court. Khan, with Barrister Zafar, returned to Pakistan and explicitly gave interviews to Pakistan’s mass media.
Khan rejected any suggestion that Pakistan had illicitly acquired nuclear expertise: “All the research work [at Kahuta] was the result of our innovation and struggle,” he said in 1990. “We did not receive any technical know-how from abroad, but we cannot reject the use of books, magazines, and research papers in this connection.”
As Pakistan Government continued to secretly developed the programme, A.Q. Khan, on other side, continued to publicized the programme by giving and issuing statements. In 1987, in an interview to British newspaper, Khan allegedly confirmed Pakistan’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons development capability, saying that a U.S. intelligence report “about our possessing the bomb (nuclear weapon) is correct and so is speculation of some foreign newspapers”. The senior officials of Pakistan Government denied the statement and disavowed the Khan’s alleged statement. The Government took the matter to General Zia-ul-Haq where General Zia-ul-Haq strongly urged Khan to stop issuing the statements or ready to face the consequences. The next day, Khan immediately wrote to British newspaper and denied giving the statement. In October 1991, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that Khan had repeated his claim at a dinner meeting of businessmen and industrialists in Karachi, which “sent a wave of jubilation” through the audience.
In October 1990, KRL’s activities led the U.S. to terminate economic and military aid to Pakistan, which led to a freeze in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development program. But in July 1996 Khan said, “at no stage was the program of producing nuclear weapons-grade enriched uranium ever stopped”.
Expansion of network
In the 1980s, the international media reported that People’s Republic of China negotiated with Pakistan for the sale of HEU fuel. During this time, General Zia-ul-Haq contracted with the Chinese regime to sell HEU fuel in exchange for (UF6). Dr. A.Q. Khan, along with the Pakistan Navy‘s Vice-Admiral, visited China to provide technical support to the Chinese nuclear weapons program. The KRL also aided China in building the centrifuge facility in Hanzhong province, roughly built in the same style as the original design of KRL. When it was reported, Chinese regime offered back the HEU fuel, but Pakistan refused, calling it a gift of gesture to China. However, after Khan was convicted in Amsterdam and later returned to country in 1986, he stopped his activities as General Zia-ul-Haq had formed a military unit to monitor Khan. Khan restarted his activities after the assassination of General Zia-ul-Haq in an aircraft crash.