- Munir Ahmad Khan
Munir Ahmad Khan
Munir Ahmad Khan (1926 - 1999), HI.
Born May 26, 1926 Died April 22, 1999(aged 72)
Citizenship Pakistan Nationality Pakistan Fields Nuclear Engineering Institutions Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
International Atomic Energy Agency
Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS)
Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH)
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
Illinois Institute of Technology
Government College Lahore
Islamic Development Bank
European Organization for Nuclear Research
National Centre for Nuclear Physics
Alma mater Government College Lahore
North Carolina State University
Illinois Institute of Technology
Argonne National Laboratory
Academic advisors Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Prof. George B. Hoadley
Dr. Walter Zinn
Dr. Norman Hilberry
Known for Pakistan's Nuclear Detterent Program
Pakistan's Nuclear Energy Program
Influenced Abdus Salam Notable awards Hilal-e-Imtiaz (1989)
Fulbright Award (1951)
Pakistan Nuclear Society Gold Medal (1999)
Munir Ahmad Khan (Urdu: منير احمد خان; May 26, 1926 – April 22, 1999), HI, Minister of State, was a Pakistani nuclear engineer and a scientist who served as the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 1972 to 1991, and the Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors from 1986 to 1987. A nuclear engineer, Munir Khan is considered as one of the chief architects of Pakistan's nuclear deterrence program and founder of the country's nuclear fuel cycle program. He joined the international nuclear field in 1956 through the Atoms for Peace Program and in subsequent years was a leading international figure in the field of nuclear energy and one of Pakistan's top scientists who was associated with his country's various nuclear projects for more than four decades until his death in 1999.
As Chairman of PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan provided the administrative and technical leadership for two decades in Pakistan's drive to become a nuclear power and develop a sustainable nuclear weapons programme and its own atomic bomb. The nuclear weapons program launched and developed under his leadership eventually culminated in the successful testing of six nuclear devices (codename Chagai-I and II) by the PAEC in 1998. Because of his integral role in the development of the nuclear weapons program, Munir Ahmad Khan, is famously referred to as the "technical father of Pakistan's atom bomb program".
Youth and Early Life
Munir Ahmad Khan was born in Kasur, Punjab Province of British Indian Empire in May 26, 1926 to Punjabi Pathan family, though he was a native of Lahore. He attended the Government Central Model School, Lahore, and in 1942 passed his university entrance exam and decided to attend Government College University to study science. In 1946, Munir Ahmad Khan took his double B.Sc. degree in Physics and Mathematics in 1946 from Government College as a contemporary of the Nobel Laureate Professor Abdus Salam. During his Bachelor's education, he also won an Academic Roll of Honor, and subsequently in 1949 he earned a B.Sc. in Electrical engineering from Punjab University's Engineering College, Lahore, where he also served as an Assistant Professor. In 1951, Munir A. Khan traveled to the United States (USA) on a Fulbright scholarship and Rotary International Fellowship where he earned an M.S. in Electrical engineering in 1952 from North Carolina State University.
Studies in United States
In 1953, Munir Ahmad Khan carried out post-graduate research work at the Illinois Institute of Technology until 1956 where he received preliminary training in atomic energy. In 1956, he was selected for the Atoms for Peace Program, under which he was trained in Nuclear Engineering, and earned his M.Sc. in Nuclear engineering at the North Carolina State University and the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois under auspices of the International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering (ISNSE). In 1957, he was part of the third batch of ISNSE's graduates who had specialized in reactor physics and nuclear engineering. The Argonne National Laboratory, and the ISNSE, were operated by the University of Chicago where, on December 2, 1942 a team of scientists achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction in a nuclear reactor, which is considered to be a crucial step in the development of the first Atomic bomb.
Research and Career in the United States
While at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Munir Ahmad Khan was elected to the Sigma-Xi, the scientific research society of America, in recognition of his research work. During his post graduate studies at IIT, he also worked briefly with Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee, WI, and later with Commonwealth Edison Chicago, as a Systems Planning Engineer. Allis-Chalmers was a sub-contractor and manufacturer of pumps and equipment for the K-25 gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant, at Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Manhattan Project in World War II. When he was working with the Commonwealth Edison as a Systems Engineer, the company was building the world's first commercial nuclear power reactor. Hence, he received his practical training in atomic energy from 1954-1956 at Commonwealth Edison Manufacturing Company.
In 1957, Munir A. Khan served as a Research Associate in the Nuclear Engineering Division of the Argonne National Laboratory where he worked as on "Modifications of CP-5 Reactor." He subsequently served as a Reactor Design Engineer in the Reactor Division of the American Machine Foundry Company, AMF Atomics, where he worked on the "Thermodynamic Design of Japan Research Reactor-2" till 1958.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
After gaining practical research experience as a reactor engineer in American nuclear industry and research laboratories, Munir Ahmad Khan joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1958, becoming a staff member in Professional Grade P-5, where he served in the Division of Nuclear Power and Reactors, Department of Technical Operations. He was the first Asian from any developing country who was appointed at a senior technical position in the IAEA in 1958. By 1961, he was a senior officer responsible for Nuclear Power Reactor Technology and Applications, Reactor Division, IAEA, and from 1968 headed the IAEA's Reactor Engineering and Nuclear Fuel Cycle activities till 1972. He was known in the IAEA as "The Reactor Khan".
His major responsibilities as head of IAEA's Reactor Engineering and Nuclear Fuel Cycle activities included developing and implementing programs in the field of research in reactor utilization in nuclear centers, technical and economic assessment of nuclear power reactors, world survey of nuclear power plants for developing countries, construction and operating experience with nuclear stations, fast breeder reactors and nuclear desalination.
As a senior IAEA staff member, Munir Khan also organized more than 20 international technical and scientific conferences and seminars on heavy water reactors, advanced Gas Cooled Reactors, plutonium utilization, performance of nuclear power plants, problems and prospects of introducing nuclear power in developing countries, Small and Medium Power Reactors and coordination of programs for research in Theoretical Estimation of Uranium Depletion and Plutonium build-up in Power Reactors in the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France and Canada. In 1961, he prepared a technical feasibility report on behalf of the IAEA on Small Power Reactor projects of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. While at the IAEA, Munir Ahmad Khan also served as Scientific Secretary to the Third and Fourth UN International Geneva Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1964 and 1971 respectively. He also served as Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors from 1986–87 and was the leader of Pakistan's delegations to 19 IAEA General Conferences from 1972-90. He also served as a Member of the IAEA Board of Governors for 12 years.
International Centre for Theoretical Physics
Munir Ahmad Khan and the Nobel Laureate in Physics, Dr. Professor Abdus Salam were lifelong friends and associates who studied Physics and Mathematics together at Government College University of the Lahore. During the late 1968, together with Salam, Khan prepared a proposal for setting up a nuclear fuel and plutonium reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was deferred by President Field Marshal Ayub Khan on economic grounds.
Munir Ahmad Khan was the first person at the IAEA who was consulted by Dr. Abdus Salam in September, 1960 about the establishment of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste. Following the same tradition, in 1976, Dr. Abdus Salam and Munir Ahmad Khan established the Annual international Nathiagali Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs in Pakistan. This led to the establishment of the National Center for Physics. Within months of Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan's taking over as Chairman of PAEC, in December 1972, Dr. Abdus Salam selected Pakistani theoretical physicists, Dr. Riazuddin and Dr. Masud Ahmad, who were working under him at the ICTP. They were asked to report to Munir Ahmad Khan on their return to Pakistan where they formed the "Theoretical Physics Group" (TPG) in PAEC which would go on to develop the theoretical design of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
On August, 1996, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan met Dr. Abdus Salam in Oxford. Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan wrote:
“ "My last meeting with Abdus Salam was only three months ago. His disease had taken its toll and he was unable to talk. Yet he understood what was said. I told him about the celebration held in Pakistan on his seventieth birthday. He kept staring at me. He had risen above praise. As I rose to leave he pressed my hand to express his feelings as if he wanted to thank everyone who had said kind words about him. Dr. Abdus Salam had deep love for Pakistan in spite of the fact that he was treated unfairly and indifferently by his own country. It became more and more difficult for him to come to Pakistan and this hurt him deeply. Now he has returned home finally, to rest in peace for ever in the soil that he loved so much. May be in the years to come we will rise above our prejudice and own him and give him, after his death, what we could not when he was alive." ”
Zulifikar Ali Bhutto's trusted aide
Munir Ahmad Khan had extremely cordial and close relationship with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and remained one of Bhutto's extremely close confident until Bhutto's death. Khan first met with Bhutto in 1958 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was Minister of Energy Ministry and guided Bhutto in key nuclear research since 1958. In October 1965, few months prior to end of Indo-Pak September war, as Foreign minister, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Vienna, Austria, when Munir Ahmad Khan informed him of the status of Indian nuclear programme and the options Pakistan had to develop its own nuclear deterrence capability. Both agreed on the need for Pakistan to develop a nuclear deterrent to meet India's nuclear threat.
Consequently, Mr. Bhutto arranged Munir Ahmad Khan's meeting with then President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, on December 11, 1965, at the Dorchester Hotel in London. When Munir Khan told President Ayub Khan that Pakistan must acquire the necessary facilities that would give the country a nuclear deterrent capability, which were available free of safeguards and at an affordable cost, the President Ayub Khan remained unconvinced.
While this meeting was going on, Bhutto was pacing up and down the hotel lobby, and when Munir Khan came out and told Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto what had happened, he replied, "Don't worry. Our turn will come". This was the beginning of their association which is believed to be akin to that of Dr. Homi Bhabha and Prime Minister Nehru of India.
At the inauguration of Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) on November 28, 1972, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan recalled their past association and similarity of views about developing nuclear capability for Pakistan. While addressing the Chairman of PAEC, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan, Mr. Bhutto said:
“ "Since 1965, I have been in close touch with you (Chairman PAEC) and we have had many occasions to discuss how atomic energy can help in the development of our country. That is why soon after assuming this office, I not only placed the Atomic Energy Commission under my direct control, but asked you to return to the country and serve the nation. I am glad that this Commission is on the move with a well-defined and broad-based programme for the future. I believe that Pakistan's survival lies in using nuclear research, nuclear technology, and nuclear power for the betterment of its people. The Government will give the fullest support to the Programme of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and this country will make the necessary resources available to bring the promise of atomic energy to the people of Pakistan at the earliest possible time". ”
In his inaugural address, the Chairman of PAEC, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan addressed the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto thus:
“ "I remember the day in October, 1965 when I had the opportunity of discussing with you the tremendous potential which atomic energy had and the role it could play in the development of our country. You not only listened but insisted that I present my view to higher-ups. I went. But my pleadings made no impact and I was dubbed as another mad man who thought like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. But the times have changed and so has the destiny of our country". ”
They continued their close association even after Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown by General Zia-ul-Haq and shifted in Adiala Jail. Prime Minister Bhutto continued to send messages to Munir Ahmad Khan inquiring about the progress of various projects of the nuclear weapons program who would also visit the former Prime Minister of Pakistan in jail on the pretext of delivering oranges and vitamins to update him on the status of the nuclear weapons program. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto[nb 1] also carried messages to Munir Ahmad Khan from her father and back in 1979 as Prime Minister Bhutto had instructed her daughter to remain in touch with the Chairman of PAEC.
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
As he joined the IAEA as a technical staff member in 1958, Munir Ahmad Khan directed the technical research on nuclear reactors installed at the PINSTECH Institute, and with Abdus Salam, played a vital role in the installation of the 5 MW PARR-1 Fast-Neutron Generator Since 1958, Munir Khan provided technical advice and support to PAEC's nuclear energy projects, and while being a senior IAEA staff member. Since 1958, Munir Ahmad Khan also played an influential role in the rise of Science in Pakistan and remained associated with Pakistan's scientific programs until his death. Munir Khan, joining hands together with Prof. Abdus Salam and Dr. I. H. Usmani, become the country's top nuclear scientists and in his individual capacity, remained associated with Pakistan's classified and open research programs for the next 40 years.
Immediately after the fall of East-Pakistan in December, 1971, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto assumed power from Yahya Khan and become the country's President. Bhutto immediately called Munir Ahmad Khan from Vienna to Pakistan. On January 20, 1972, in a meeting of Pakistan's top scientists and engineers, arranged and participated by Abdus Salam held at Mutlan, Bhutto did not waste a moment to appoint Munir Ahmad Khan as Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) During the Multan meeting, Bhutto exhorted the assembled scientists and engineers to develop the nuclear weapons program under Munir Ahmad Khan, who remained Chairman of PAEC for the next 19 years till 1991 when he retired with the status of Minister of State. After retirement, he was elected as Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the International Nuclear Academy, the President of the Pakistan Nuclear Society and the Pakistan Institute of Electrical Engineers. He also served as Advisor to the Islamic Development Bank on Science and Technology.
Soon after his appointment at Multan, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan took over as Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission from Dr. I.H.Usmani on March 15, 1972. Within two months, he submitted a detailed nuclear plan to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto which envisaged the establishment of numerous plants and facilities needed to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle. In November 1972, Prime Minister Bhutto inaugurated the 137 MWe KANUPP-I commercial nuclear power plant along with Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. Abdus Salam. In December 1972, Munir Ahmad Khan initiated conceptual and design work on nuclear weapons when two Pakistani theoretical physicists working at the ICTP, were asked by Prof. Abdus Salam to report to the Chairman of PAEC. This led to the formation of the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) in PAEC, headed under Dr. Abdus Salam and until 1974, which was mandated to develop the design of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. After Salam's departure, the TPG, under Riazuddin and later Dr. Masud Ahmad directly reported to Munir Ahmad Khan, and continued to develop new indigenous nuclear weapons designs which were tested in various cold tests by PAEC.
In the months and initial years following Munir Ahmad Khan's taking over the nuclear program, PAEC entered into agreements with France, Belgium, Canada, and West Germany for the supply of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, a heavy water plant and a nuclear fuel fabrication plant, which were to be under IAEA safeguards. But following India's 1974 nuclear tests, these agreements were abrogated by the supplier states due to Pakistan's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Development of Nuclear Weapons
In March, 1974, Munir Ahmad Khan called a meeting to initiate work on the atomic bomb in the conference room of Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). This meeting was attended by, Ishfaq Ahmad, Hafeez Qureshi, and the members of the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) comprising Abdus Salam and Riazuddin as the head of the TPG. However, during the meeting the word "bomb" was never used, but the participants fully understood what was being discussed. This led to the formation of the Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) in PAEC with a mechanical engineer, Mr. Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi as its first Director-General. On March 24, 1974, Munir Ahmad Khan, along with Abdus Salam and Riazuddin, visited Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) where the "Wah Group" was established under DTD Director Hafeez Qureshi and Dr. Zaman Shaikh, a Chemical engineer from DESTO. The DTD along with the "Wah Group" in PAEC was tasked to manufacture chemical explosive lenses, delivery and triggering mechanism, and tempers used in the technology of the nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the TPG, reporting to Munir Ahmad Khan, completed the research on Fast neutron calculations, hydrodynamics, and the designing of the fission weapons by 1977 and by 1982-83, work on the bomb was completed by PAEC.
Munir Ahmad Khan was in Peshawar for laying the foundations of a nuclear agriculture centrer at Nuclear Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), when India surprisingly conducted a test of its miniature device under a codename "Smiling Buddha", In the wake of India's test, work on the various aspects of nuclear weapons design, development and manufacture was completed, by PAEC's Directorate of Technical Development (DTD), which under the leadership of Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan carried out the first cold test of a working atomic bomb on March 11, 1983, without the fissile material A second cold test, codename Kirana-I, of a nuclear device was carried out shortly after the first which was witnessed by Munir Ahmad Khan, as Chairman of PAEC, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Chairman of Senate, Vice-Chief of Army Staff General K.M. Arif, and then Member (Technical), PAEC, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad.By 1990, DTD carried out 24 cold tests of different nuclear weapon designs. earlier, in 1977, PAEC also selected the Chaghi and Kharan test sites which were completed by 1980.
Development of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Following India's surprise nuclear test, codename Smiling Buddha, in 1974, PAEC, under Munir Ahmad Khan, began work on the indigenous development of the nuclear fuel cycle, outside IAEA safeguards.Therefore, on February 15, 1975, Munir Ahmad Khan obtained approval from Prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for funding a $450 million nuclear weapons program. This proposal included the setting up of uranium and plutonium exploration, mining and refining plant at Baghalchur; a uranium conversion (oxide, metal and uranium hexafluoride (or UF6) gas production complex at Dera Ghazi Khan, which provides the crucial UF6 feedstock for uranium enrichment at Kahuta; and a uranium enrichment plant based on centrifuge technology at Kahuta.
These projects were launched by PAEC in 1975 and were completed by 1980.PAEC had also begun Research and development work on uranium enrichment in 1974 and in 1976, Munir Ahmad Khan also initiated work on the nuclear fuel fabrication complex at Kundian. When Canada cut off supplies of nuclear fuel and spare parts in December 1976,Pakistan developed its own fuel within two years and began loading KANUPP-I reactor with indigenous nuclear fuel by 1980.Munir Ahmad Khan also launched the uranium enrichment project under the code-name Project-706, under Sultan Mehmood which included the site selection of the Kahuta enrichment plant, completion of a pilot enrichment plant at Chakala at the Chaklala Air Force Base, along with selection and preparation of the pilot centrifuge plant at Sihala, procurement of essential equipment and materials for the enrichment project and selection of trained manpower for the project.
By June 1976, PAEC scientists and engineers began rotating the first experimental centrifuges at the Chakala Air Force Base.The enrichment project was renamed Engineering Research Laboratories or/ ERL when Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan took over the project from Sultan Mehmood in July 1976 and was made autonomous in the following month.A Coordination Board was set up to manage and supervise the project. This Board was headed by Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and had AGN Kazi, Agha Shahi and Munir Ahmad Khan as its members.However, ERL continued to remain under the overall supervision of PAEC till 1977 after which it was separated and made independent, but throughout the subsequent years and the 1980s, Munir Ahmad Khan continued to serve as Member of the Coordination Board for the enrichment project as Chairman of PAEC.
From 1972 onwards, PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan ran over 20 labs and projects on the nuclear program, in 15-20 Directorates, ranging from uranium exploration, mining, refining, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, reprocessing to nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons development programs, in addition to strontium, zirconium, beryllium and tritium production plants. His years in office also saw the establishment of numerous nuclear medical and agricultural centers, a Computer Training Center, Karachi Nuclear Power Training Center (KNPTC) and other infrastructure projects.In 1990, Munir Ahmad Khan also laid the foundation of the National Development Complex (NDC) which played an important role in Pakistan's missile program and produced the solid-fueled Shaheen missile systems.
During a visit to PAEC's Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), in November 1986, the President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq praised the work being carried out in PAEC. He wrote in the visitor's book:
It has been a matter of great pride and satisfaction to see what all is going on in PAEC. It was heartening to see the progress that has taken place. I congratulate Mr. Munir and his associates for all that they have done. We are proud of their achievements and pray for their success in the future.
Former Member (Technical), PAEC and Chairman, NESCOM, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand recalled Mr.Munir Ahmad Khan's contribution in heading up and building Pakistan's nuclear program as Chairman of PAEC. In two separate memorial references in 2003 and 2007 he stated:
“ As many as nineteen steps were involved in the making of a nuclear weapon ranging from exploration of uranium to the finished device and its trigger mechanism.The technological and manpower infrastructure for eighteen out of these nineteen steps were provided by the PAEC under the leadership of Munir Ahmad Khan who led it for nearly two decades from 1972 to 1991. Today all the major key scientific organizations linked to the country's security like the PAEC, the Kahuta Research Labs and the strategic production complex were run and operated by Pakistani professionals produced by the policies of the PAEC both under him and Dr. Usmani of producing indigenous trained manpower.
Pakistan's nuclear capability was confirmed the day in 1983 when the PAEC carried out cold nuclear tests under the guidance and stewardship of late Munir Ahmad Khan. The tests however, were not publicly announced because of the international environment of stiff sanctions against countries, which sought to acquire nuclear capability.
Expansion of nuclear infrastructure
In the wake of India's 1974 nuclear test, it was anticipated that Pakistan would now have to face international embargoes and sanctions on acquisition of nuclear technology and equipment from supplier states. So a long-term effort was launched for the indigenous production of spare parts, equipment and components for the nuclear program. In this respect, a Scientific and Engineering Services Directorate (SES) was established by Munir Ahmad Khan in PAEC in 1984 who appointed Parvez Butt as its Project-Director. The SES was mandated to develop infrastructure facilities for design and engineering, fabrication and welding, machining, testing, quality assurance and control, and non-destructive testing for various projects being run by PAEC.
The two major infrastructure projects developed by SES include the Seamless Tube Plant (STP) at Kundian and the Nuclear Equipment Workshop (NEW) Project. The latter Project consists of the Pakistan Welding Institute (PWI), Islamabad; the National Centre for Non-Destructive Testing (NCNDT), Islamabad; the Design and Development Division, Islamabad; NEW-II, Karachi, and NEW-III Project,Taxila.The NEW-III Project, also known as the Heavy Mechanical Complex-3, was conceived to produce specialized heavy equipment, sophisticated components and parts for nuclear power and fuel cycle projects of PAEC. Today, HMC-3 is one of the largest projects in the heavy engineering sector of Pakistan. It can produce a single-piece job weighing up to 320 tons with the existing facilities and is equipped with Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines. The HMC-3 retains its place as the only heavy engineering organization in Pakistan which caters to the national requirements for producing most of the precision and hi-tech components,and heavy and large equipment.
Plutonium Production and Reprocessing Program
From the outset, Munir Ahmad Khan focused on the indigenous development of a plutonium program as part of the fuel cycle. Despite many difficulties, Munir Khan and PAEC successfully developed and managed the plutonium infrastructure. This capability was proved when it was reported that PAEC conducted a test of a powerful plutonium device, codename Chagai-II. France and Pakistan had formally signed an agreement for the supply of a commercial reprocessing plant in 1974, which was to be under IAEA safeguards. When France cancelled the Chashma reprocessing plant (CPR) contract with Pakistan in 1978, the PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan decided to develop this capability on its own. However, by the time the French backed out of this agreement, PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan was already working on another indigenous pilot-scale un-safeguarded reprocessing plant-New Laboratories, PINSTECH, which was completed by 1981-82.
In 1985, Munir A Khan also initiated work on the indigenous 50 MWe Khushab-I plutonium production reactor, a heavy water plant, and a tritium production plant which comprise the Khushab Nuclear Complex The Khushab-I reactor and heavy water plant became operational by April 1998 and based on these successes, today Pakistan has constructed two additional plutonium production reactors at the same site and is completing a fourth. To develop an indigenous base for designing and building various nuclear plants and facilities, he obtained the approval of a nuclear self-reliance plan from the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo in January 1987. These projects led to the successful completion of the plutonium production and reprocessing programs. These infrastructure and plutonium production reactor projects were completed and became operational during the 1990s and have contributed to the expansion of Pakistan's nuclear program and the further development of additional plutonium production reactors at the Khushab Nuclear Complex.
Conventional Weapon System Programs
Munir Ahmad Khan also initiated several defense and conventional weapons-related projects in PAEC during his tenure as Chairman, which included ballistic missile projects and laser products for the Pakistani armed forces. A commercial subsidiary of PAEC, Al-Technique Corporation of Pakistan Ltd.(ATCOP) was established in 1986 for producing laser products for the country's armed forces. ATCOP specialized in making Laser Range Finders; Laser Designators; Integrated Fire Control Systems; Systems for Tank Retrofit and Upgrade Programs;Passive Night Sights; V/UHF Radio Sets; and Optical Components.
ATCOP's laser products consisted of the AR-3 Laser Range Finder for Infantry and Artillery; LTS-1 Laser Threat Sensor; AR-3 Thermal Imager for night operations; LDR-2 Laser Designator for Precision Guided Munitions along with an airborne version. ATCOP also produced systems for Main Battle Tanks. Among these were TR-2 Laser Range Finder for tanks and T-59 Upgrade Program;DNS-3 Driver's Night Sight;GNS-1 Gunners Night Sight; and IFCS-69 Fire Control System for tanks. ATCOP's Avionics Products included HUD Glasses for Mirage-V and F-7 aircraft; ARS-134 Airborne R/T set,30-400 MHz Frequency hopping and Encryption; and AA-2 Laser Altimeter for A-5 and F-7 aircraft. The then President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was given a successful demonstration of ATCOP's indigenously produced Laser Range Finder during his visit to PINSTECH on November 2, 1986.
Saviour of Nuclear Program
On June 7, 1981, Israel completed a surprise attack on Iraq's nuclear program under the mission code "Operation Opera". After the incident Pakistan Government placed its Air Force on high alert to defend country's nuclear development programme as the M.I. learned a parallel operation might be led by India. The year after, Pakistan's ISI secretly learned that Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has given green signal to Indian Air Force launch a surprise attack on the New Labs, a plutonium reprocessing plant at PINSTECH and the centrifuge plant at Kahuta, under the mission code "Attack on Kahuta".
in 1983, Munir Ahmad Khan was attending IAEA General Conference along with his Indian counterpart Dr. Raja Ramana. Munir Ahmad Khan met Dr. Raja Ramana at the Imperial Hotel at Vienna, Austria where his Indian counterpart did confirm about the possible surgical attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities. During their conversation, he told the Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission that an Indian attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities would trigger a possible Pakistan retaliatory strike on Indian nuclear facilities at Trombay, which will result in the release of radioactivity causing a major disaster. Dr. Raja Ramana said he would talk to the Indian Prime Minister about the nuclear issue once he gets to India. A few days later, Raja Ramana held a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and conveyed Pakistan's possible response. Indira Gandhi immediately postponed the surprise attack, and subsequently the matter was shelved. Following these events, Indian and Pakistani officials met for negotiations and agreed that both countries would not attack each others nuclear facilities.
Development of Nuclear Energy
In 1989, Munir Khan also led the programme to uprgrade the PARR-I reactor from 5MWe to 10 MWe and the construction of the 27kWe PARR-II. In 1986, PAEC signed a comprehensive agreement of cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy with China. A grand ceremony was held in Beijing where Foreign minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan in the presence of Munir Ahmad Khan and the Chinese Premier Li Peng. This accord opened the way for Pakistan to receive Chinese assistance in setting up four 300 MWe nuclear power reactors under IAEA safeguards at Chashma. Therefore, PAEC reached an agreement with China in November 1989 for the supply of a 300MWe CHASHNUPP-I commercial nuclear power plant. In February, 1990, President Mitterrand of France visited Pakistan and announced that France had agreed to supply a 900 MWe commercial nuclear power reactor to Pakistan which was to be under IAEA safeguards. However,following the dismissal of the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in August, 1990, the French nuclear power plant went into cold storage and the agreement could not be implemented due to financial constraints and the Pakistani government's apathy.
Shortly afterward, Munir Ahmad Khan stated that the signing of civil nuclear cooperation agreements with China and France had broken a fifteen year virtual embargo by western states on the supply of nuclear power plants to Pakistan.
Scientific Research and Training Programs
Munir Ahmad Khan, with Professor Salam, played a major integral role in the development and the rise of Pakistan science. He was one of the driving force behind the rise of science in Pakistan. To provide the trained manpower for the nuclear development, Munir Ahmad Khan upgraded the Reactor School and in 1976 established the Centre for Nuclear Studies (CNS) as a center of excellence. The CNS acquired the status of a University in 1997 and is known as the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS). By 1989, a 27 Kw research reactor was set up at the CNS for research purposes. The "Munir Ahmad Khan Gold Medal" is awarded to outstanding students in M.Sc., Systems Engineering at Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS). Other training centers and institutions were also established in PAEC by Munir Khan. Prominent among these are the Karachi Nuclear Power Training Center (KNPTC) which is now known as the Karachi Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering (KINPOE). Set up in 1972, KNPTC was designed to train qualified manpower for running KANUPP-I and PAEC's nuclear energy development.
PAEC was also a pioneer in Computer training when a Computer Training Centre (CTC) was set up in 1982 to train manpower in this field for different projects of the nuclear development. Together, PIEAS, KINPOE and CTC offer Masters and PhD programs in Systems Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Medicine, Information Technology, Medical Physics, Nuclear Power Engineering, Materials Engineering and Process Engineering.
To harness the peaceful applications of atomic energy for the welfare of the people, PAEC expanded the existing nuclear medical and bio-technology and nuclear agriculture centres in Pakistan. Munir Ahmad Khan doubled the number of these centres during his tenure as PAEC Chairman and established the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Oncology (INMOL) at Lahore in 1984;Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine(IRNUM) in November,1975 at Peshawar; Larkana Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy (LINAR) at Larkana, Sind, in 1978;the Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute (NORI} at Islamabad. In addition, the Centre for Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy(CENAR)was established at Quetta in 1986
Munir Ahmad Khan's 19 years as Chairman also saw the establishment of the National Institute of Bio-technology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) in 1987, which was formally inaugurated by the President of Pakistan in 1994. However, the most significant achievement in nuclear agriculture was that of the Nuclear Institute of Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), at Faisalabad. The project, which was approved under Dr. Ishrat Hussain Usmani in 1967 was completed and commissioned in April, 1972. The work of NIAB under Munir Ahmad Khan resulted in the production of 27 different crop varieties of cotton, wheat, rice, chickpea, mungbean and lentil. The most successful cotton varieties produced through mutation breeding NIAB-78 and NIAB-86, released in 1983 and 1990 respectively. the introduction of NIAB-78 resulted in the increase in Pakistan's annual cotton production from 3 million bales in 1983 to 12.8 million bales by 1992. Cotton being the backbone of textiles, which are the most important export item for Pakistan, enabled the country to earn billions in foreign exchange due to the research carried out by NIAB.
The Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology PINSTECH, Nilore, was launched by Dr.Ishrat Hussain Usmani and Prof. Abdus Salam in the 1960s in the first phase. However, the second phase saw its completion and operationalization in 1974 with the commissioning of research and development laboratories under Munir Ahmad Khan. Under his guidance, PINSTECH emerged as the largest nuclear research center in the Muslim world and the third largest in the developing world.
Since 1974, PINSTECH was expanded with several new Laboratories and Divisions added to it, including Radio Isotope and Applications Division and the Nuclear Materials Division. PINSTECH also became the center for manpower training and R&D for scientists and engineers for almost all nuclear projects comprising Pakistan's peaceful nuclear development.
Even as Munir Ahmad Khan headed Pakistan's nuclear weapons, fuel cycle, and nuclear energy programme for almost two decades, Khan kept a much lower profile than Abdul Qadeer Khan. Whilst, Munir Ahmad Khan developed the entire nuclear weapons programme under extreme secrecy, Western, American, and Pakistan's Media has always portrayed Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan as the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme of Pakistan, even though he was the head of only one project — uranium gas-centrifuge programme— at KRL of Kahuta.
On the other hand, from 1972 onwards, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan headed over 20 different laboratories and projects, including the front and back ends of the nuclear fuel cycle; nuclear power, research, power and plutonium production reactors, including Kanupp-I, Khushab-I and PARR-Reactors; nuclear weapons design, development and testing programs; Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH); nuclear medicine and bio-technology centres; and nuclear training centres along with other infrastructure and research and development projects.
Former Pakistan's Prime minister Benazir Bhutto while condoling the death of Munir Ahmad Khan in 1999 said:
"Pakistan's nuclear programme will always stand out as a symbol of lasting tribute to the memory of Munir Ahmad Khan who was head of PAEC for nearly two decades during which he helped build the vast nuclear infrastructure and trained thousands of scientists and engineers which eventually brought Pakistan on the nuclear map of the world. Munir Ahmad Khan was chosen for the job by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972 for his competence, dedication and commitment. He acquitted himself honourably with the trust reposed in him and in meeting the challenge".
Benazir Bhutto also remarked in an interview in 2004 that,"Munir Ahmad Khan was indeed the long-term chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and considered by many as the real 'father' of Pakistan's atom bomb programme,"
When the PAEC carried out six nuclear tests at Ras Koh Hills of the Chaghi Hills District (codename Chagai-I), and at the Kharan desert (codename II) in May 1998, the Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) of PAEC issued a statement which said:
"During the critical years of nuclear device development, the leadership contribution changed hands from Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan to Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and finally to Dr. Samar Mubarakmand (Member Technical)".
A 2006 Dossier on Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) of London, termed Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as the "Father" and Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan as the "Technical father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb project. Munir Ahmad Khan was awarded the second high civilian award of "Hilal-e-Imtiaz" by former Prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1989. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was only responsible for the single uranium centrifuge programme at Kahuta was twice awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan, while the same has been denied to Munir Ahmad Khan who developed and led the entire nuclear program from 1972–1991, comprising several projects and laboratories, and during whose tenure as Chairman of PAEC acquired nuclear weapons capability for Pakistan.
His colleagues and subordinates who worked with and for him in PAEC, including dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, dr. Abdus Salam, dr. Riazuddin, and dr. Samar Mubarakmand, however, were awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz after the 1998 tests, even was Dr. I.H.Usmani. Nevertheless, in spite of his colleagues' repeated recommendations, Munir Ahmad Khan's services for Pakistan remain largely unknown and unacknowledged, both at the public and state level.
Quotes by Munir Ahmad Khan
- "We were not just making the bomb, but building science and technology."
- "We have to understand that nuclear weapons are not a play thing to be bandied publicly. They have to be treated with respect and responsibility. While they can destroy the enemy, they can also invite self destruction."
- "While we were building capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle, we started in parallel the design of a nuclear device, with its trigger mechanism, physics calculations, production of metal, making precision mechanical components, high-speed electronics, diagnostics, and testing facilities. For each one of them, we established different laboratories".
- "Many sources were tapped after the decision to go nuclear. We were simultaneously working on 20 labs and projects under the administrative control of PAEC, every one the size of Khan Research Laboratories."
- "On March 11, 1983, we successfully conducted the first cold test of a working nuclear device. That evening, I went to General Zia with the news that Pakistan was now ready to make a nuclear device."
Papers and Technical Reports
- “Investigations on a Model Surge Operator,” M.S. Thesis, Department of Electrical Engineering, North Carolina State University,1952.
- “Small Power Reactor Projects of United States Atomic Energy Commission”, P. Augustine and Munir A. Khan, Sept. 1961, IAEA.
- “Power Reactor Projects in Member States”, Sept. 1962 and 1963, IAEA.
- “Selected Power Reactor Projects in Canada and USA”, Technical Report Series No. 36, IAEA, 1964.
- “Staffing and Training for Nuclear Plants”, Munir A. Khan and D. Yashin, Paper delivered at the International Survey Course on Economic and Technical Aspects of Nuclear Power, IAEA, Vienna, Sept. 1966
- “Use of Nuclear Energy for Water Desalination”, Munir A. Khan, D. Brice, R. Krymm, Proceedings of the World Power Conference, Tokyo, Oct. 1966.
- “Development in Nuclear Power”, Paper presented at the IAEA/ECAFE Briefing Seminar on Nuclear Power, Singapore, June 1968.
- “Cost and Economics of Nuclear Power”, Ibid.
- “Problems of Introducing Nuclear Power into Developing Countries”, Ibid.
- “Extrapolation of Nuclear Power Costs in the Case of Developing Countries”, Munir A. Khan and J.A. Lane, Proceedings of the Symposium on Comparison of Nuclear Power Costs at London, IAEA. 1968.
- Plutonium Utilization in Thermal Reactors, Munir A. Khan. D. Yashin, et al. Proceedings of a Panel of Plutonium Utilization, IAEA, 1968.
- Small and Medium Power Reactors: A Review of their Present Technological and Economic Status, Munir A. Khan, D. Briggs, et al. Atomic Energy Review, Vol.8, No. 3, IAEA, 1969.
- Nuclear Power and Developing Countries, Proceedings of a Seminar on Nuclear Law for the Developing World, Vienna, 1969.
- Performance of Nuclear Power Reactor Components, Munir Khan and S. Havel, Atomic Energy Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, IAEA, 1970.
- Prospects of Intermediate Sized Reactors, Proceedings of Symposium on Small and Medium Power Reactors, Oslo, 1970.
- Operating Experience with Nuclear Power Stations in Member States, Munir Khan, M. Ristie, (IAEA-127), 1970.
- Proceedings of Fourth International UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva, 1971.
- Standardization of Nuclear Plants and their Application in Developing Countries, Report on a Working Group on Power Reactors of Interest to Developing Countries (IAEA-140) October, 1971.
- Need for Developing Nuclear Energy in Muslim Countries, “Islamic Defense and Aviation Review” Vol. 1, 1979, Islamic Institute of Defense Technology, London.
- Constraints on Developing Nuclear Energy in Third World Countries, Paper presented at European Nuclear Conference, Joint Meeting of European Nuclear Society & American Nuclear Society, Hamburg, May 1979.
- Nuclear Energy and International Cooperation: A Third World Perception of the Erosion of Confidence, Paper presented at International Consultative Group on Nuclear Energy meeting, Rockefeller Foundation, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Sept. 1979.
- Developing of Nuclear Energy in Third World: Need & Constraints, Paper presented at 5th International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs, June 1980.
- Technological Challenges for the Muslim World, Paper Presented, International Conference on Science in the Islamic Polity in the Twenty-first Century, March 26–30, 1995, COMSTECH.
- Energy Security by Munir A. Khan and Ahmad Mumtaz. Paper presented at the global seminar on the future of nuclear power, Cannes, France, May 10–12, 1998.
Awards and Fellowships
- Academic Roll of Honor, Government College, Lahore, (1946)
- An elected fellow of Pakistan Nuclear Society (1992)
- Hilal-e-Imtiaz (1989)
- An elected member of Sigma-Xi Research Society of America (1953–1956)
- Fulbright Award (1951)
- Rotary International Fellowship (1951)
- Munirite-Naturally occurring Sodium Vanadium Oxide Hydrate (1983)
- Fellow American Nuclear Society (1993)
- Fellow, Pakistan Institute of Electrical Engineers (1992)
- Gold Medal, Pakistan Nuclear Society (1999)
- Minister of State, Government of Pakistan (1990–91)
- Founder President and Life Member, Pakistan Nuclear Society (1991)
- Fellow International Nuclear Academy
- Member International Consultative Group on Nuclear Energy
- Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) (1972–1991)
- Head of Reactor Engineering and Fuel Cycle activities, International Atomic Energy Agency,(IAEA), (1968–72)
- Chairman of the Board of Governors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (1986–1987)
- Member of Board of Governors of International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), for 12 years.
- A visiting scientist at International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) (1973–1986)
- Scientific Secretary,Third and Fourth United Nations International Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, (1964–1971)
- Leader of Pakistan's delegation to 19 International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA)General Conferences, (1972–1990)
- Advisor to Islamic Development Bank on Science and Technology (1990s)
- Dr.Ishfaq Ahmad
- Dr.Samar Mubarakmand
- Kirana Hills
- Khushab Reactor
- Dr.Ishrat Hussain Usmani
- Khushab Reactor Complex
- Pakistan and Nuclear Weapons
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Government offices Preceded by
MGen Zahid A. Akbar
Science Advisor to the Prime minister Secretariat
July 5,1977 – 1 August, 1993
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