Saturday, March 6, 2010

A History

“Tremendous pressure was brought on Pakistan; our economic aid was cut off by the USA and an embargo was put on even such small things as rubber O-rings and magnets. We faced these problems with boldness and increased our efforts to finish the job as soon as possible.

“Once it was known that we were working on the enrichment technology, the Western press mounted a most vicious and unfounded propaganda against our programme. A case was initiated against me in Holland for writing two letters from Pakistan to two of my former colleagues. The letters were said to be an attempt to obtain information which the Public Prosecutor interpreted as being classified. I was prosecuted without my knowledge and in my absence. The information I had asked for was ordinary technical information available in published literature for many decades. I submitted certificates from six world-renowned professors from Holland, Belgium, England and Germany stating that the information requested by me was public knowledge and was not classified. I filed an appeal against this unjust case and the High Court of Amsterdam quashed the verdict of the lower court. On 16th June, 1985, the Dutch government finally dropped all charges.

Enrichment “is the most difficult of all the technologies in the whole fuel cycle. Centrifuge technology involved top-notch expertise in metallurgy, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, process technology, electronics, automation and control, nuclear physics, vacuum technology, etc. An ultracentrifuge runs at 70,000 to 80,000rpm and one can imagine the problems arising from the demands made on materials, the tolerances, bearings, imbalance of the rotating components, etc. Naturally, the Western world was fully aware of these problems and was sure that an underdeveloped country like Pakistan could never master this technology. We proved otherwise. We not only succeeded in mastering this difficult technology, but also in putting up a plant which symbolises our national pride and competence. When we bought inverters from Emerson, England, we found them to be less efficient than we wanted them to be. We asked for improvement of some parameters and we suggested the method. As was later pointed out in the notorious BBC film “Project 706 – the Islamic Bomb,” the requested modifications took the wind out of the sails of the people at Emerson.

“…Many Western companies approached us with details of equipment they had sold to Almelo, Capenhurst, etc. They literally begged us to buy their equipment. We bought what we considered suitable for our plant and very often asked them to make changes and modifications according to our requirements….

“Notwithstanding the fact that we were handicapped by not being able to hold open discussions with foreign experts or organisations, we attacked all the problems successfully. Our scientists and engineers not only designed and ran good centrifuges, but designed the cascades, worked out the header piping system, calculated the pressures, developed the control philosophy and developed software and hardware for it.

“…Once the Western propaganda reached its climax and all efforts were made to stop or block even the most harmless items, we started indigenous production of all the sophisticated electronic, electrical and vacuum equipment.

“Kahuta is an all-Pakistan effort and is a symbol of a poor and developing country’s determination to refuse to submit to blackmail and bullying. It is not only a great source of personal satisfaction to me, but is also a symbol of pride for my colleagues and the whole nation.

“Usually in setting up a plant, the sequence followed is idea, decision, feasibility report, basic research, applied research, construction of a table model, construction of a pilot plant, engineering for the real plant and, finally, the construction of the facility. This is a long chain of steps and usually takes a very long time. We took a very bold step and started all the steps simultaneously.

“While preliminary work was being undertaken at Rawalpindi and procurement was being done for the most essential and sophisticated equipment and materials, we were manufacturing the first prototypes of centrifuges, were setting up a pilot plant at Sihala and were preparing blueprints for, and starting with, the construction of the main facility at Kahuta. It was a revolutionary and bold step and we never repented following this course, which virtually ensured our success in record time.

“In any large and difficult undertaking, there are rough times to go through and of course success may not come till one is dead, but these things (difficulties, embargoes, failures, etc.) do not matter if one is in earnest. My colleagues and I were in earnest and by the grace of Almighty God, and through our sustained and untiring efforts, we were lucky to see the success in our lifetime. My interview of 10th February, 1984, to Mr Tariq Warsi of the daily Nawa-e-Waqt put an end to all speculation and gave the nation the first happy tidings since the ugly debacle of East Pakistan in December 1971.

“I would like to emphasise that the success of the Kahuta Plant is due to the enormous sacrifices made by the families (parents, wives, children, etc.) of the scientists, engineers and non-technical staff working at the plant. It was only due to their understanding, love, affection and encouragement that all those working at Kahuta could concentrate fully on the enormous task entrusted to them. The engineers and scientists did a wonderful job; a task any nation could be proud of.

“Time and again it had been solemnly declared by our national leaders, including the president, the prime minister and the foreign minister, that ours is a solely peaceful nuclear programme. In late 1985, the president went so far as to make the following proposals to India on the floor of the United Nations:

a. To declare South Asia a nuclear weapon-free zone.

b. To sign the NPT simultaneously.

c. To sign a bilateral nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

d. To agree to an international inspection team to visit and inspect each and every nuclear facility in each of the two countries.

e. To renounce mutually the use of nuclear weapons.

“While both India and Pakistan are fully justified in pursuing their individual nuclear programmes and not to allow themselves to be blackmailed or bullied by other countries, it is in the larger interests of their millions of people that they remove mutual distrust and come to a clear, unambiguous and failsafe understanding regarding the manufacture or use of nuclear weapons.

“The Pakistan enrichment experience has demonstrated that if a nation is sincere and determined to achieve a certain goal, she will do it and will do so much sooner than anticipated. What we achieved in seven years at a much lower cost was considered unattainable in 50 years by others. Goal-oriented and concerted efforts by the PAEC now would definitely result in our own reactors in the coming years. It is still not too late and Pakistan can again show that it can meet any challenge when it comes down to national pride and honour.

“I would like to mention that our efforts in the enrichment field have been most challenging, most adventurous, most hazardous but most satisfying and gratifying. My colleagues and I are really proud of our contribution to the scientific and technological progress of our beloved country in this most important field. We are sure that our efforts and achievements will always be remembered by a proud and grateful nation and that they will always be a source of inspiration to our future generations. Pakistan Zindabad.”

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