Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan appreciated the efforts of former Prime Minister Shaheed ZulfikarAli Bhutto on Monday for providing the opportunity to make the nuclear program of Pakistan successful.
Talking on Express News programme Front Line with Kamran Shahid, Dr Khan said that Pakistan’s nuclear program was totally indigenous, including nuclear material, extracted from Bagal-Chur.
Asked when Pakistan became capable of a nuclear explosion, Dr Khan said that in a letter dated December 10, 1984, he had written to then Pakistan president, General Ziaul Haq, that his department was ready to conduct a nuclear explosion at a week’s notice. However, he pointed out that it was not till Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minsiter that Pakistan started a delivery system programme (missile programme).
He said that Pakistan completed its nuclear program without the help of any foreign country.
Asked about American pressure, Dr Khan said that any intelligence estimates of the US were 10 years behind where Pakistan’s nuclear programme actually stood. “When CIA sent a letter saying we had crossed the five per cent threshold, we had made several bombs by then.”
On the question of proliferation, Dr Khan said that Pakistan only provided guidance with respect to programme, and source of equipment to those countries who contributed materially and technologically. He added that Pakistan had acquired materials from Western countries.
On the existence of the programme itself, Dr Khan said that then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had supported it, which is commendable.
Affectionately dubbed the “father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb”, Dr Khan said that Pakistan can talk to the world with honor and dignity after possessing the atom bomb.
Later, answering a question during a live phone-in on a subsequent Express News programme “Kal Tak” (Till Yesterday), Dr Khan said that they had managed to build a successful nuclear warhead by 1984 (cold tests), at a maximum estimated cost of $250 million, funded internally through off-the-book allocations from developmental budgets.
May 28 marks the anniversary of Pakistan’s first publicly announced successful nuclear tests. In 1998, in what Pakistan claims was considerable pressure from India, after the latter had carried out multiple nuclear tests on May 13, 1998 at Pokhran, situated just 150 km (93 miles) from the border with Pakistan. In response, Pakistan conducted its own tests, successfully detonating eight nuclear warheads in the Chagahi mountains in Balochistan, near the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s own nuclear programme was started in response to India’s programme, who had managed to conduct their first successful nuclear test in 1973.
More in PakistanRivalry: Man shot dead by two motorcyclists