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The Unsing Nuclear Hero

Discussion in 'Pakistan Strategic Forces' started by RAPTOR, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR FULL MEMBER

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    The unsung nuclear hero

    M.A. CHAUDHRI
    The seventh death anniversary of Mr Munir Ahmed Khan, the architect of nuclear Pakistan, and Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 1972-1991 is marked on April 22. Trained as a nuclear engineer at the Argonne National Laboratories in the United States, he was the first Pakistani and one of the first Asians to join the IAEA in 1958 and rose to become Head of Reactor Engineering Division and Member of its Board of Governors and in 1986 was elected IAEA’s Board Chairman.
    As a Minister Z.A. Bhutto had tried to persuade President Ayub Khan to acquire advanced nuclear technologies. In December 1965 Ayub was on an official visit to the UK and Bhutto persuaded Ayub Khan to meet Munir Ahmed Khan in London. When Ayub was told by Munir that these nuclear technologies could eventually place in the hands of Pakistan a nuclear option, the General simply smiled and said that if needed, Pakistan could get it from China. Bhutto was pacing up and down in the lobby waiting as Munir was meeting Ayub.
    When Munir came out, Bhutto asked him what had happened. “The President did not agree” Munir told him. “Do not worry - our turn will come”. And when Bhutto came to power in December 1971, the turn came, and soon thereafter he called a meeting of senior scientists and engineers on January 20, 1972, at Multan, where he appointed Mr Munir Ahmed Khan as Chairman of the PAEC and head of the nuclear programme.
    It was a historic move where after the PAEC began a crash programme to develop a sustainable and credible nuclear deterrent capability. Munir Khan from his 13-year tenure with the IAEA had brought vast international contacts and rich technical and managerial experience. He was both a great visionary and a doer who planned goals and targets 10 to 15 years in advance and then set out in all earnestness to achieve those goals.
    He created a team which would comprise such gifted scientists and engineers as Dr Ishfaq Ahmad, Dr Samar Mubarakmand, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, Dr Inam-ur-Rahman, Dr Hafeez Qureshi and Anwar Ali and Dr N.A. Javed to name only a few. Soon after the Multan Conference of 1972, Munir and his team began work on multiple fronts in parallel. In order to acquire critical technologies and materials that were not available in Pakistan, Munir Khan established an extensive procurement network under the brilliant S.A. Butt, who under Munir’s guiding hand would play a key role in making the nuclear dream come true.
    To build up a strategic nuclear infrastructure and to embark on the quest to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle, Munir Ahmed Khan in 1974 initiated the uranium enrichment and plutonium programmes in parallel. He got the PC-1 of the Kahuta Enrichment Project known as Project-706, approved from Prime Minister Bhutto in late 1974, which was envisaged to be completed by 1979 and begin production thereafter.
    Munir Khan selected the site for KRL in early 1975 and by 1976 had completed the civil works and recruitment of staff for it. In development of the uranium enrichment programme, Munir Khan with Bashiruddin Mahmood as Project incharge of Project-706 started R&D on centrifuges based on Italian centrifuge designs in the barracks of Chaklala airport in late 1975 and the first pilot scale centrifuge test-bed was successfully run in April 1976 at the same site.
    Based on this success, a pilot centrifuge plant was set up in Sihala and subsequently the full-scale uranium enrichment plant was developed at Kahuta. Munir Khan through S.A. Butt also acquired critical materials for the enrichment programme such as managing steel, frequency inverters etc. As part of acquiring complete mastery over the nuclear fuel cycle, Munir Khan also established facilities for heavy water production, uranium exploration and mining, uranium milling, conversion and purification and uranium hexafluoride or UF6 production. It is this UF6 gas that is enriched through “gas” centrifuges in KRL and is the critical feed for uranium enrichment without which uranium enrichment through any method is impossible.
    In development of the plutonium programme, Munir Khan concluded an agreement with France in October 1974 for a reprocessing plant to be built at Chashma and when the French backed out under American pressure in 1978, the PAEC under Munir Khan went on to complete a pilot reprocessing plant by 1981, known as “New Labs” at PINSTECH. In 1985, Munir began work on the 50MW heavy water Khushab plutonium production reactor which has been commissioned since 1998 and is also the source of tritium which is used in developing boosted fission devices and has also given Pakistan the basis of thermonuclear capability.
    Munir began work on the atomic bomb itself in March 1974 when he formed the “Wah” Group and soon thereafter the PAEC’s Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) tasked with designing and developing and testing nuclear weapons. Munir’s team had completed work on the Chaghi nuclear test sites by 1980 and on March 11, 1983, the PAEC under Munir conducted the first successful cold test of an atomic bomb and by 1990 the PAEC had conducted 24 cold tests wherein a new nuclear weapon design was tested whereby more sophisticated and stronger atomic bomb designs were developed.
    Moreover, to develop the human resource for the nuclear programme and to provide trained technical manpower to all projects, Munir established the Centre for Nuclear Studies in 1975, which today is a university (PIEAS) and has so far produced over 5000 nuclear scientists, engineers and technicians.
    He also expanded PINSTECH by adding the Nuclear Materials and Systems Engineering Divisions to it which would play a key role in all projects, including uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Munir also upgraded the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor-1 (PARR-1) from 5MW to 10MW. CNS and PINSTECH would prove to be the backbone of the nuclear programme.
    In developing the nuclear power programme, Munir and his team indigenously developed the nuclear fuel and spare parts for the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) and in 1989 he laid the foundations of the Chashma-1 Nuclear Power Plant (CHASNUPP-1). In harnessing the peaceful use of the atom, Munir also established over a dozen nuclear medical and agricultural centers in Pakistan.
    He also concluded an agreement in 1989 with China to acquire solid fuelled M-11 missiles which would provide the R&D base to PAEC to build an indigenous missile programme for which Munir laid the foundations of the National Development Complex (NDC) in 1990 which was eventually established in 1993 and has provided Pakistan with the Shaheen missile system.
    By the time Munir Ahmed Khan retired from the PAEC in 1991, he had become a “Father” figure for the thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians who under Munir Khan’s guidance and supervision had burnt midnight oil to enable Pakistan to become a nuclear power and for whom Munir was a source of great motivation and inspiration. But Munir never claimed credit for himself and assigned credit for materialising the nuclear dream to the thousands of PAEC scientists and engineers.
    He was a man who was obsessed with secrecy and believed that the PAEC’s accomplishment’s in the nuclear field need not be advertised, especially during the covert period of 1972 to 1998 when Pakistan had repeatedly been asserting that its nuclear programme was only for peaceful purposes. In doing so he was motivated by a deep sense of patriotism, maturity and responsibility as he was against using the nuclear programme for personal glorification or fulfilling political ambitions of certain individuals.
    He had lived and worked in the West sufficiently long to understand that the best way to carry Pakistan’s nuclear programme to its logical end in the face of international discrimination and sanctions was to work in complete secrecy and without alerting Pakistan’s enemies by unnecessarily making tall claims for personal ends. Some of his colleagues believed that keeping a low profile was a mistake, as it enabled others to hijack all the credit from PAEC and establish sole monopoly over achievement.
    Oblivious to fame or fortune, Munir was an ardent believer that institutions mattered most as individuals come and go, for which he paid a personal price by remaining unsung. The traditions of excellence, honesty, selfless hard work and devotion to duty established by Munir Khan enabled PAEC to prove its mettle at the time of 1998 nuclear tests. Munir Ahmed Khan’s accomplishments during his 19 year long tenure as PAEC Chairman are a testimony to the fact that he is undoubtedly a patriot and a great hero of nuclear Pakistan who along with his team of dedicated scientists and engineers have enabled us to safeguard our honour as a nation.
     
  2. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR FULL MEMBER

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    Pakistan's Plutonium weapons endeavors need to be attributed to this man. AQ Khan was to the Uranium bomb what Munir Khan is to Pakistans Plutonium bombs.

    :flag:
     
  3. Neo

    Neo RETIRED

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    True...he initiated the nuclear programme based on plutonium.
    I think I have posted an article about him somewhere here.
     
  4. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR FULL MEMBER

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    Where is it? I'd like to read it :flag: