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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chagai-I refers to the six underground nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan, under the leadership of Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, in the month of May 1998[1]. It was named Chagai-I as the tests were conducted in the Chagai District (Baluchistan province). These nuclear tests resulted in a variety of sanctions against both Pakistan and India by a number of major states. With testing these six nuclear devices, Pakistan thus became the 7th country in the world to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons.


Birth of Pakistan's atomic program

The Pakistan atomic program was started in January 1972 after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came into the political power. The Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was an unforgettable war and lesson to the Pakistani political and military establishment. It underscored the need to have a strong and highly well-trained military with a comprehensive ability to defend itself from the enemy, notebly the Indian Armed Forces. The legacy of the 1971 war has left deep scars in Pakistani civil society as well as the political and military misery. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is widely reminded in the world as the "Father of Pakistan's Atomic Program", goaded Pakistan into kickstarting its indigenious program to develop atomic weapons by making Munir Ahmad Khan as the head of the atomic program. The PAEC chairman is often regarded as the "God-Father of Pakistan's nuclear program", Munir Ahmed Khan headed the program for almost two decades. The 1974 Indian atomic test at the Pokhran in 1974 spurred the Government of Pakistan picked up its speed to developed atomic weapon programs under the three to five years.

The program, at first, was headed by nuclear scientist and prominent physicist dr. Abdus Salam— who later won the Nobel Prize for physics — to develop nuclear devices. Then, Munir Ahmad Khan, an IAEA scientist also joined the program and subsequently became a head of Pakistan's atomic program. In July of 1976, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who was till working as a senior nuclear scientist at the URENCO Group also joined the atomic program, where dr. Qadeer Khan, along with renowed military engineer Lt. Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar founded the then-Engineering Research Laboratories. After decades of covertly building and developing the atomic program and the related atomic devices. Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, tested its six underground nuclear devices in Chagai Hills.

Preparation for Atomic Tests

Pakistan's nuclear explosion test in the hills of Chagai

Plans to conduct an atomic test started in 1976 when Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) research scientists frequently visiting the area to find a suitable location for an underground nuclear test, preferably a granite mountains. After a hectic and day long survey, the PAEC scientists chose the granite mountain Koh Kambaran in the Ras Koh Hills range in the Chagai Division of Baluchistan in 1978. Its highest point rises to a height of 3,009 metres (sources vary). The then-martial law administrator of the province, General Rahimuddin Khan, spearheaded the construction of the potential test sites throughout the 1980s. According interview given by the nuclear scientist dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Pakistan was ready to test its first nuclear device at the Chagai Hills in 1983, but the decision was diverted by the Government of Pakistan due to international pressure.


Atomic Devices and Test Yields

The PAEC carried out five underground nuclear tests at the Chagai test site at 3:16 p.m. (PST) on the afternoon of May 28, 1998.[2][3] The yield of the tests was reported to be 40 kt.[4] Following the tests, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation via Pakistan's government channel PTV and congratulated the entire nation and days of celebration followed throughout Pakistan[5][6].

Development and test teams

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)

  • Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
  • Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, Member (Technical), Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Dr. Anwar Ali, Directorate of Technical Equipment (DTE).
  • Mr. Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi, Head of Directorate of Technical Development (DTD)
  • Dr. N.A. Javed, Director of Directorate of Quality Assurance (DQA).
  • Dr. Irfan Burney, Director of Directorate of Technical Procurement (DTP).
  • Dr. Muhammad Jameel, Director of Directorate of Science and Engineering Services (DSES)
  • Dr. Tariq Salija, Director of the Radiation and Isotope Applications Division (RIAD).
  • Dr. Muhammad Arshad, the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL)

  • Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Director General of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).
  • Dr. M. Nasim Khan, Director of Material Science and Engineering Group (MSE).
  • Dr. S. Mansoor Ahmed, Director of Uranium Enrichment Technology Group (UET).
  • Dr. Fakhr Hashmi, Director of Laser Enrichment Technology Group (LET).
  • Dr. Javed Ashraf Mirza, Director of Solid-State and Spectroscopy Group (SSSG).
  • Dr. Tasneem M. Shah, Director of Computational Fluid Dynamics Group (CFD).

Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers

Reaction in Pakistan

The Directorate of Technical Development of PAEC which carried out the Chagai tests issued the following statement soon after the tests:[7]

The mission has, on the one hand, boosted the morale of the Pakistani nation by giving it an honorable position in the nuclear world, while on the other hand it validated scientific theory, design and previous results from cold tests. This has more than justified the creation and establishment of DTD more than 20 years back.

Through these critical years of nuclear device development, the leadership contribution changed hands from Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan to Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and finally to Dr Samar Mubarakmand (Member Technical).

These gifted scientists and engineers along with a highly-dedicated team worked logically and economically to design, produce and test an extremely rugged device for the nation which enable the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from strength to strength.[8]

Global Reactions

Pakistan's tests were condemned by the international community.[1] Brazil declared that it "deplores" Pakistan's decision to carry out the tests. In an official statement on 28 May 1998, the French Foreign Ministry denounced Pakistan's five nuclear tests.[2] French President Jacques Chirac implored Pakistan to abstain from further testing. Iran also criticized the tests, with a formal statement by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi expressing deep concern at Pakistani nuclear proliferation. Robin Cook, Britain's foreign secretary, expressed dismay at the tests. Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, deplored the tests saying that "they exacerbate tension in an already difficult relationship.

The United Nations Security Council condemned Pakistan's five nuclear tests. "The council strongly deplores the underground nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan despite international calls for restraint," said a statement from Kenya's Njugumu Moses Mahugu, president of the 15-member council.

At a news conference 28 May 1998, United States President Bill Clinton condemned Pakistan's nuclear tests saying, "I deplore the decision." He also promised to reprimand Islamabad with the same sanctions the United States has imposed on India." Clinton also signed off on economic sanctions against Pakistan that prohibited billions of dollars in loans from multilateral institutions.[3]

See also

External links

  • Video of Pakistan's first Nuclear Test [4]


  1. ^ The News International (May 29, 2008). "Yaum-e-Takbeer celebrated across country". 
  2. ^ When Mountains Move RAI MUHAMMAD SALEH AZAM,
  3. ^ Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program - 1998: The Year of Testing Carey Sublette,
  4. ^ (December 11, 2002). "Pakistan Nuclear Weapons". 
  5. ^
  6. ^ BBC. "BBC on This Day May 28, 1998". BBC. 
  7. ^ nuclear weapon archive (December 10, 2001). "1998: The Year of Testing". 
  8. ^ M.A. Chaudhri,"Pakistan's Nuclear History: Separating Myth from Reality," Defence Journal (Karachi), May 2006.


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