Abdul Qadeer Khan

Abdul Qadeer Khan

date of birth : 01/04/1936 | date of death :
Born on 1 April 1936 in Bhopal, princely state of Bhopal, Scientist, British Indian Empire (present-day India), nuclear physicist and a metallurgical engineer, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is hailed by the masses as a national hero and father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.

Birth, Birthplace, Time of birth:

Abdul Qadeer Khan, also known by some in Pakistan as Mohsin-e-Pakistan, more popularly known as Dr. A. Q. Khan was born on 1 April 1936 in Bhopal, princely state of Bhopal,British Indian Empire (present-dayIndia).

Father's name:  Abdul Ghafoor Khan
Mother's name: -
Brother: -
Sister: -
Spouse: -
Children: -

Reputation, fame, nickname:


Personal Information:

Religion: Muslim
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian
Sexual orientation: Straight

Life events:

Early Life

He was born on April 27, 1936 at Bhopal in central India. From paternal side he belonged to the Turkish origin of Ghauri Tribe, who arrived in India in 12th Century A.D. while from maternal side his lineage belonged to the Mughals. His father Abdul Ghafoor Khan, who had graduated from Nagpur University in 1896, was one of the most respectable and honorable members of the community, and his mother Zulekha Begum was known as religious-minded woman. After the partition in 1947, the family emigrated from India to Pakistan, and settled in Karachi, West Pakistan.Khan studied in Saint Anthony's High School of Lahore, and then enrolled at the D.J. Science College of Karachi to study physics and mathematics. After making a transfer in 1956, he attended Karachi University, obtaining BSc in Metallurgy in 1960; subsequently he got the internship at the Siemens Engineering. After the internship, he was employed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and worked as a city inspector of weight and measures in Karachi. In 1961, he went to West Berlin to study Metallurgical engineering at the Technical University Berlin. Qadeer Khan obtained an engineer's degree in technology from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and a doctorate engineering in Metallurgical engineering under the supervision of Martin Brabers from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, in 1972.Qadeer Khan's doctoral dissertations were written in German. His doctoral thesis dealt and contained fundamental work on marten site, and its extended industrial applications to the field of morphology, a field that studies the shape, size, texture and phase distribution of physical objects.In the spring of 1972 Khan was hired by Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory, a subcontractor of the Dutch partner of URENCO. URENCO, a consortium of British, German, and Dutch companies, was established in 1971 to research and develop uranium enrichment through the use of ultracentrifuges, which are centrifuges that operate at extremely high speeds. Khan was granted a low-level security clearance, but, through lax oversight, he gained access to a full range of information on ultracentrifuge technology and visited the Dutch plant at Almelo many times. One of his jobs was to translate German documents on advanced centrifuges into Dutch.

Volunteered Services to Pakistani Government

Khan was heavily influenced by events back home, notably Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in a brief war with India in 1971, the subsequent loss of East Pakistan through the creation of a new independent country, Bangladesh, and India’s test of a nuclear explosive device in May 1974. On September 17, 1974, Khan wrote to Pakistan’s prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, offering his assistance in preparing an atomic bomb. In the letter he offered the opinion that the uranium route to the bomb, using centrifuges for enrichment, was better than the plutonium path (already under way in Pakistan), which relied on nuclear reactors and reprocessing.Khan's company, FDO, provided consulting services to a Dutch-German uranium enrichment facility called URENCO that supplied fuel for peaceful nuclear energy uses (although the double edge of nuclear energy technology is its frequent applicability to weaponry). He realized that the company's centrifuge designs could potentially be used to enrich uranium to bomb-level concentrations, and, having been given a security clearance by the Dutch government (which at the time had no reason to suspect him of anything), he simply walked through the URENCO facility taking notes, in Urdu. When questioned, which he rarely was, he said that he was writing letters home to Pakistan. Later he became acquainted with a Dutch co-worker, the machinist and photographer Frits Veerman, from whom he obtained additional information about, and photos of, the URENCO centrifuge designs. Veerman eventually realized that Khan was a Pakistani spy. He tried to alert his superiors, but was told to keep quiet lest he make trouble for his company lab. Finally the suspicions of the Dutch government were raised by Khan's persistent questioning of a variety of individuals on technological subjects. In late 1975 Dutch intelligence agents instructed FDO to move Khan to a less sensitive position, but by now it was too late. At the end of that year Khan returned to Pakistan with a good grasp of the most sophisticated uranium-enrichment technology known to the Western world. He assumed leadership of one branch of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, the one concerned with the effort to make a bomb from highly enriched uranium. Various legal proceedings launched against Khan in the Netherlands came to nothing, and he twice eluded arrest by Dutch intelligence agents when the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told them to hold off so that additional information could be gathered about Khan's contacts. The CIA, however, was unaware of the full extent of Khan's knowledge and network of contacts. "We knew a lot," an American nuclear intelligence official told William J. Broad and David E. Sanger of the New York Times , but we didn't realize the size of his universe."In 1983 he was tried in absentia by a Dutch court for espionage and found guilty; the conviction was overturned on a technicality. An honored figure in Pakistan, Khan was appointed head of a research institute named for him at Kahuta, which became Pakistan's main nuclear-weapons and uranium-enrichment facility.

Later Years

For his contributions in the field of science and technology, Dr Khan was awarded Nishan-i-Imtiaz in 1996 and again in 1998. Thus he is the only Pakistani to have received twice the highest civil award. He is also a recipient of Hilal-i-ImtiazDuring 1990s, there were reports in the Western media that Dr. A. Q. Khan had been involved in the sale of centrifuge parts to Libya and Iran. In the late of 1990s, Khan played an important role in Pakistan’s space program, patricularly the Pakistan’s first Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project and the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). Khan’s unrestricted publicity of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities brought humiliation to the Pakistan’s government. The United States began to think that Pakistan was giving nuclear weapons technology to North Korea, to get ballistic missile technology in exchange. Khan also came under renewed scrutiny following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. He allegedly sold nuclear technology to Iran. However, he was pardoned in 2004, but placed under house arrest. In November 2003, Pakistan was warned of possible nuclear leaks and according to an IAEA report, Dr. Khan was accused of having at the centre of an international proliferation network. Consequently he was retired from KRL and was appointed as Advisor to the President. In the beginning Dr. Khan denied any kind of personal involvement in the nuclear proliferation. However on February 4, 2004 in a television appearance he took “full responsibility” for his action and seeked “pardon” from the nation. Since then he is in safe custody and no one is allowed to see him. On January 31, 2004, Khan was arrested for transferring nuclear technology to other countries. On February 4 he read a statement on Pakistani television taking full responsibility for his operations and absolving the military and government of any involvement—a claim that many nuclear experts found difficult to believe. The next day he was pardoned by Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, but he was held under house arrest until 2009. Khan’s critics, particularly in the West, expressed dismay at such lenient treatment of a man whom one observer called “the greatest nuclear proliferator of all time.” For many Pakistanis, however, Khan remains a symbol of pride, a hero whose contribution strengthened Pakistan’s national security against India.


Abdul Qadeer Khan got his primary education in Ginnori Primary School and passed his Middle examination from Jehangiria Middle School. From Alexandria High School later named Hameedia High School, he got his matriculation. Later he got admission in D.J Sindh Government Science College, Karachi. From Karachi University he achieved his B.Sc. degree and the following year he succeeded in the competitive examination. He served as Inspector of Weights and Measures for three years but then he left for West Germany to get higher education. In Berlin he achieved high competence through attending several courses in metallurgical engineering. He obtained the degree of Master of Science (Technology) in 1967 from Delft University of Technology, Belgium and then earned a doctorate in metallurgy from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) in 1972. He excelled as a metallurgist — an expert at building centrifuges — hollow metal tubes that spin very fast to enrich natural uranium in its rare U – 235 isotopes, which is an excellent bomb fuel.

Occupations and Career:

Abdul Qadeer Khan is a nuclear scientist and a metallurgical engineer, colloquially regarded as the founder of HEU based Gas-centrifuge uranium enrichmentprogram for Pakistan's integrated atomic bomb project. He received his doctorate in 1972 and began looking for a job, finding one with a Dutch consulting firm called FDO that specialized in the design of centrifuges—giant spinning drums used for a variety of industrial processes including, as it happened, the enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons. It was at this point that Khan's career began to intersect with the unfolding of world events. He worked (1970-75) on uranium enrichment at a Dutch plant, gaining a considerable knowledge of atomic physics, of engineering as it related to the creation of fissionable materials, and of the working of centrifuges, and honing his management skills. Two years after India exploded its first nuclear device (1974), Khan returned to Pakistan, where, with the support of President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he soon assumed leadership of the nation's nascent nuclear program, utilizing secret nuclear technology he had stolen and information and equipment smuggled from the West by Pakistani agents. A.Q. Khan initially worked with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), headed by Munir Ahmad Khan, for a short period. But since he was not satisfied with this set-up, Bhutto gave A.Q. Khan in July 1976 autonomous control of the Kahuta Enrichment Project that had been already operative as Project-706 since 1974, two years prior to A.Q. Khan’s arrival in Pakistan. When Dr. A.Q. Khan joined, it was called Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL). However, on 01 May 1981, ERL was renamed through an order by Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq as Dr. A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories (KRL). On May 28, 1998, Pakistan successfully tested her first nuclear device and emerged as the only Muslim country to join the nuclear club. Abdul Qadeer Khan was one of Pakistan's top scientists,and was involved in the country's various scientific programs until his dismissal. In January 2004, Khan was officially summoned for a debriefing on his suspicious activities in other countries after the United States provided evidence to the Pakistan Government, and confessed it a month later. Some have alleged that these activities were sanctioned by the authorities, though the Pakistan government sharply dismissed the claims.

Awards /Honors:

  • Hilal-i-Imtiaz (14 August 1989)
  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz (14 August 1996 and 23 March 1999)


Selected research papers and patents

Nuclear and Material physics

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


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

Quotes and Memoirs:

I have to ask Allah's forgiveness and not get angry, because they come to me out of love, and it's not fitting that I should turn to them in hatred.
No money on earth can buy the love and affection that has been given to me by a grateful nation.
Hatred, intolerance, poor hygienic conditions and violence all have roots in illiteracy, so we're trying to do something to help the poor andthe needy.
Some people are ok with doing nothing all day after they retire, but then some people if they had nothing to do would go mad and start banging their heads against a wall.
Well, sometimes if I go out to dinner with my family, people will come up to me and put their hand across my plate for me to shake, sometimes when I have a bite of food in my mouth. I find this a bit disturbing.
I am not a madman or a nut.
I am proud of my work for my country.
People go out of their way to show the love and respect for me. It is very gratifying.