“We had been monitoring their acquisition of these materials around the world and did a lot to prevent their obtaining of some of them,” Hummel said. “Yet they were making progress on a site we knew – which they categorically denied doing. They had no choice but to deny it. We had no choice but not to believe them.
On May 1, 1981, General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, the military ruler of Pakistan, renamed the country’s nuclear research complex to Dr. AQ Khan Research Laboratories.
By the early 1980s, Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb had become an open secret. “There is unambiguous evidence that Pakistan is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program,” the State Department reported in a then filed document dated June 23, 1983. It described in detail how Pakistan had bought, borrowed and stole the technology to build the bomb. .
In 1985, Congress passed a law requiring the president to certify that Pakistan did not produce nuclear weapons. Without this certification, Congress would cut off a large package of military aid to Pakistan, which was part of the US effort to support resistance to the Soviet occupation of neighboring Afghanistan.
But for five years thereafter, President Ronald Reagan and President George HW Bush certified that Pakistan did not have a nuclear weapons program. Finally, in 1990 – after the Soviets left Afghanistan – President Bush declared that he could no longer sign the annual certification.
Pakistan detonated its first nuclear device on May 28, 1998, in response to an Indian nuclear test. By this time, Dr Khan had become an international outcast.
Mr Khan, the Prime Minister, said Dr Khan would be buried at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. He is survived by his wife, Hendrina Khan, and his two daughters, Dina Khan and Ayesha Khan.
Salman Massoud contributed reports.