Pakistani Scientist A.Q. Khan, Who Secretly Sold Nuclear-Weapons Technology, Dies at 85

Abdul Qadeer Khan,

a Pakistani scientist who shared nuclear-weapons technological know-how and know-how with international locations the U.S. regards as rogue states just after helping his state build its initial atomic bomb, died Sunday. He was eighty five decades old.

At home, Dr. Khan was greatly witnessed as a hero for creating Pakistan the only nuclear-armed state in the Islamic globe and providing it a deterrent from its rival, India, which also has atomic weapons.

Abroad, he ran a clandestine network selling nuclear-weapons technological know-how. Libya, Iran and North Korea, all hostile to the U.S., had been beneficiaries of his skills.

Pakistan gave him a point out funeral Sunday, and the countrywide flag was purchased flown at fifty percent-team.

Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Dr. Khan for his “critical contribution” to creating Pakistan a nuclear-weapons country. “This has presented us protection from an intense, considerably larger nuclear neighbor. For the people of Pakistan he was a countrywide icon,” he said on Twitter.

Dr. Khan died of breathing troubles subsequent an infection with Covid-19, doctors who treated him said.

Feroz Khan, a previous formal in Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons plan who is now a professor at the Naval Postgraduate University in Monterey, Calif., said Dr. Khan was equipped to established up a globe-large network to acquire the products wanted and then managed the assembly of a bomb.

“Without Dr. A.Q. Khan, Pakistan would not have had nuclear weapons,” the professor said. “But his loose habits also endangered the Pakistan plan.”

Acquiring employed his network of businessmen and organizations for Pakistan to acquire nuclear technological know-how in the nineteen seventies and nineteen eighties, he afterwards put that very same internet into reverse to sell the know-how to other international locations for individual financial gain, he said.

Abdul Qadeer Khan is greatly regarded as a hero in Pakistan for creating it the only nuclear-armed state in the Islamic globe and providing it a deterrent from India.


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Mushahid Hussain, a senator who was information and facts minister in 1998 when Pakistan examined its nuclear weapon, said Pakistanis considered Dr. Khan saved the state not only from India, but also from the U.S. just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when Washington went to war with Afghanistan and then Iraq.

Pakistan was the main supporter of the Taliban regime, which had hosted Osama bin Laden. Remaining nuclear-armed intended Pakistanis felt that they had been considerably fewer likely to be attacked, he said.

“A.Q. Khan is an genuine Pakistani hero. He defied the globe, he defied the odds, he confirmed it can be done by a Muslim, by a 3rd Worlder,” said Mr. Hussain.

Right after the U.S. confronted Pakistan with evidence of Dr. Khan’s proliferation activities, he was put less than residence arrest in 2004. He acknowledged his job in worldwide proliferation on countrywide television in an emotional tackle, in which he took sole accountability for “errors in judgment linked to unauthorized proliferation activities.”

“It pains me to know in retrospect that my full lifetime achievement of furnishing foolproof countrywide protection to my country could have been placed in significant jeopardy on account of my activities,” the scientist said in 2004.

He lived the relaxation of his life in his at ease villa in a leafy part of Islamabad, less than the guard of greatly armed navy staff. Pakistani officers say they feared he could be kidnapped by foreign intelligence brokers and interrogated. They permitted no outside the house entry to him by nuclear inspectors. 

He was under no circumstances charged with any crime. By 2008, he said that he was pressured into creating the 2004 confession. Friends say he felt terribly treated by Pakistan.

Pakistan’s strong navy has always denied involvement in his proliferation activities.

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, a feel tank in Washington, said that Dr. Khan “took a single for the group,” taking the blame for the sharing of technological know-how overseas. Mr. Krepon said some of the proliferation was formally sanctioned, but other income had been Dr. Khan’s individual entrepreneurship.

He said that by now Pakistan is estimated to have designed a lot more nuclear warheads than India.

Pakistan has one hundred sixty five nuclear warheads, in contrast with 156 warheads for India, in accordance to an assessment publish this year by the Stockholm Global Peace Study Institute.

“The program that A.Q. Khan designed does not have a closedown change,” said Mr. Krepon.

It was the 1971 war with India, which saw fifty percent of Pakistan split absent, that convinced Pakistan that it wanted nuclear weapons, as it would always be outgunned with standard forces. In 1974, India examined its nuclear weapon.

The male with the prepare of how to attain that aim was Dr. Khan, who approached the Pakistani governing administration. He was a metallurgical engineer, not a nuclear scientist, then functioning in the Netherlands at a corporation functioning a uranium-enrichment plant. He stole the designs to the centrifuge technological know-how and went again to Pakistan in 1976 to join the magic formula plan to acquire nuclear weapons.

He was to go on to overshadow the many other experts who performed important roles in developing the Pakistani bomb, heading the plan and wielding tremendous ability with handful of checks.

In the nineteen eighties, Islamabad was a close U.S. ally in a joint enterprise to sponsor Islamist insurgents from the then Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with Washington selecting to disregard intelligence that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons, Mr. Krepon said.

At some point it was Libya in 2003 that presented information of its dealing with Dr. Khan to the U.S. That blew open his procedure selling nuclear technological know-how. By then, even so, Pakistan was again a important U.S. ally, in the “war on terror” from al Qaeda and the Taliban, and stress from Washington on Islamabad was limited.

Toby Dalton, co-director of the nuclear plan plan at the Carnegie Endowment, a feel tank in Washington, said that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons had deterred a more significant war with India, but the value of the region’s concentrate on protection expenditure, at the cost of financial and social growth, was steep.

“Until leaders decide that the human growth costs of arms racing are no extended sustainable, the race will go on,” said Mr. Dalton.

Generate to Saeed Shah at [email protected]

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