“Role of President Zia ul Haq in the Nuclear Program of Pakistan”

“Either Zia really does not know (about the nuclear program) or is the most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met,” Vernon Walters wrote to the State Department. It was revealed...

in secret US diplomatic memos declassified in April 2012.

On 11 March 1983, Pakistan successfully conducted the first cold test of the nuclear device designed by PAEC scientists and engineers under the Presidency of Zia ul Haq.

Let me explain it's significance.

A cold test essentially is the actual detonation of a complete nuclear bomb, with natural uranium in the core instead of HEU or Pu. Therefore once detonated, no fission reaction takes place.

The first cold test was detonated by a push-button method under the direction....

of Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad in March 1983.

Muneer Ahmed later recalled, “On March 11 1983, we successfully conducted our 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.”

This test became a milestone in Pakistan’s nuclear history. Dr Samar Mubarakmand said “We realized that ‘today we have become a nuclear power,’ but we could not express it because we were told to keep it secret. Pakistan’s nuclear capability was confirmed the day...

when the PAEC carried out cold nuclear test”.

In the uranium enrichment project, the first landmark was reached on 4 june 1978, when a prototype centrifuge was successfully run for the first time after a number of failed attempts.

President Zia congratulated Dr A.Q.Khan who was the project director and the team of scientists. Pakistan thus became the first country outside the developed world to have achieved enrichment capability.

By 1984, Pakistan is believed to have achieved the capability of uranium enrichment on a significant scale under the Presidency of Zia ul Haq.

Below table shows the different bomb designs developed by PAEC in the era of Bhutto and Zia.
On September 15 1986, President Zia entered into a new nuclear cooperation agreement that promoted peaceful uses of atomic energy with China which supplied two 325-MW nuclear power reactors to Pakistan, both of which would be under IAEA safeguards.

In 1989 China supplied the first reactor at Chashma, which is now commissioned and operating as the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (CHASHNUPP-1).

In 1989 Der Spiegel reported, “There is no doubt that Munir Ahmed Khan has secretly developed his country into a nuclear power; the bomb puzzle is complete. He had many individual parts— ranging from transformer sheets to uranium conversion—supplied by German firms”

How Pakistan mastered the Plutonium Route with major developments in the regime of President Zia.
In October 1979 Israelis were interested in taking proactive steps against the Pakistani nuclear program, presenting an “Entebbe Two” option. This designation was a reference to the 1976 Israeli commando raid at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport to rescue hostages of a hijacked plane.
President Zia sent Foreign Minister Agha Shahi to the U.S. capital. In a meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, he found Mr. Gerard Smith also present. Recalling the discussion, Mr. Shahi said that Gerald Smith began his conversation by stating...
“Don’t you know you are entering the Valley of Death? Do you think you are enhancing your security by what you are doing? The Indians are far ahead of you. They can utterly destroy you.”
Shahi continued, “I paused for a moment and said, ‘Mr. Gerard Smith, I am at a great disadvantage talking to you. You are perhaps the foremost expert on all things nuclear. I am a layman . . . but one doesn’t have to become [a] weapons expert to understand the...
strategic, psychological and political implications of possessing nuclear capability . . . . [If] I remember at the time of [the] Cuban missile crisis . . . it never occurred to President Kennedy to give [an] ultimatum to Khrushchev . . .
. [He] then agreed to pull out Jupiter missiles from Turkey and committed not to invade Cuba and then Khrushchev agreed to pull back the missiles from Cuba. From this we understand [that] the value of nuclear capability is in its possession as deterrent,...
not in its use, because it is a doomsday weapon.’
There was total SILENCE.”

The impact of Israeli attack on Osirak and the crash of the centrifuges in 1981 forced Zia to realize that the nuclear program was vulnerable not just to preventive strikes...
..but also to natural calamities. Zia then dispatched Lt Gen Syed Zamin Naqvi and A.Q.Khan to request bomb-grade fissile material and bomb designs. Their visit bore fruit as Pak then received the Chinese CHIC-4 weapon design along with 50 kg of HEU in 1981..
...material sufficient for two bombs. The Diagnostics Directorate was established in 1980 during the time of General Zia and first headed by the experimental physicist Dr. Samar Mubarakmand. This directorate was charged with administering the hot and cold tests...
...that measure the expected yield, trigger mechanisms, explosive lenses, and so forth of various bomb designs. State of-the-art CNC machines and high-speed computers ran the necessary diagnostic techniques. Dr Samar explained the genesis and mandate of the Diagnostics Dte.
“There can be 2 approaches [to testing the bomb]: either to detonate a bomb and sit back and clap or to treat it as a scientific experiment—try to get the maximum scientific data from nuclear detonation. We chose to do the latter and for that we had established Diagnostic Dte”
From 1983 to 1995, the PAEC carried out 24 cold tests in the Kirana Hills in a series of two dozen 100 to 150 foot-long tunnels—all of which tested different bomb designs. New designs periodically developed by the Theoretical Physics Group were cold tested at regular intervals.
Both Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and the PAEC competed intensely under Bhutto, and eventually under Zia-ul-Haq. Zia realized that the highly classified activity should be under centralized control and a single command. Both for security as well as technical efficiency...
...reasons, the president would make two decisions. First, he would decide to maintain the development of the metallic uranium core at KRL rather than transport it to the PAEC. Second, Zia would end the bomb design competition between the two organizations.
For a decade the PAEC worked discreetly on the bomb design. In the early 1980s, however, Zia-ul-Haq deliberately sparked a competition on bomb design between the two organizations, hoping to turn interlaboratory rivalry and the egos of the two Khans into a positive..
...dividend for the country. The competition for the bomb design lasted about six years, after which the president reversed his decision, returning the bomb design project to the PAEC.
In March 1984, exactly one year after the PAEC announced its first successful cold test, KRL conducted its first cold test in the Kirana Hills near Sargodha. By December, President Zia was informed that successful colds tests had been completed, and KRL was ready for...
..further presidential orders to begin the hot tests. The product, however, was still a large bomb that could be delivered only by a C-130 cargo aircraft with no assurance of delivery accuracy.
In early 1987 President Zia ordered that KRL leave the bomb design project and transferred the work to the PAEC leadership. There were three main reasons for Zia-ul-Haq’s change of mind: (1) technical considerations, (2) A.Q.Khan’s indiscretion, and (3) competition.
The PAEC was far ahead of KRL in terms of R&D and technical capacity.

The Uranium Metal Laboratory (UML) was established in 1976. Later in the 1980s when KRL was able to enrich weapons-grade material, this facility was used to convert UF6 into the nuclear bomb core.
To cut it short: if Pakistan is a nuclear armed country today, President Zia has a huge role in this.
The people should not forget that.
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