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How Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, Father of the 'Muslim Bomb,' Escaped Mossad Assassination

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Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan who has just died at the age of 85 from COVID-19, is considered a national hero in Pakistan, his homeland. There, and worldwide, he has been dubbed the "Father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons." But he could equally be called as the Godfather of Iran’s nuclear program.

Born in India in 1936, Khan moved with his family in the wake of partition to Pakistan in 1952. In 1972, at the age of 36, he was sent to specialize in a Dutch laboratory and workshop, which was part of the European URENCO consortium, building centrifuges to enrich uranium.

Khan stole their documents and plans but then, in 1975, he was exposed by Dutch intelligence and fled to Pakistan. There, he persuaded the reluctant prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to start a nuclear program to match India’s nuclear weapons.

By pure coincidence, the same year, Arnon Milchan, future Hollywood tycoon and then an Israeli spy, was also involved in a similar theft. According to foreign reports, Milchan and Israel’s 'Scientific Liaison Bureau' intelligence unit bought URENCO’s drawings of centrifuges from a German engineer and built similar centrifuges in Dimona for Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Pakistan conducted its first public nuclear test in 1998, when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister, but it is believed to have achieved nuclear capabilities at least several years previously.

After helping his home country build a significant nuclear arsenal, Khan retired and opened an unusual private business. He set up shop in Dubai and from there ran a convoluted and secretive global network of helpers, engineers, contractors, and financiers, offering other states his nuclear knowhow, tradecraft, technology, and equipment. The network rented workshops, factories, offices, and computer centers in several countries including Malaysia, North Korea, and Switzerland, to name a few.

Clothed with the aura of the nuclear genius who facilitated the first "Muslim bomb," A.Q. Khan traveled extensively during the late 80’s and early 90’s throughout the Middle East, offering his services. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and even Syria rejected his mercenary approach of........

© Haaretz

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