Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who became known to Western intelligence services as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and a worldwide dealer in weapons technology, died Sunday at a hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was believed to be 85 years old.
Dr. Khan’s death was reported by Pakistan’s interior minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad. The apparent cause was complications from Covid-19, he said.
Dr. Khan was the man who made Pakistan a nuclear power. For at least 25 years, starting from scratch in 1976, he built, bought, bartered and stole the makings of weapons of mass destruction.
To millions of Pakistanis, he was a national hero, the man who developed a nuclear program to match the country’s rival, India. To the C.I.A., he was one of the more dangerous men on earth.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, on Sunday said that he was “deeply saddened” by Dr. Khan’s death, praising him for “his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state.”
“This has provided us security against an aggressive, much larger nuclear neighbor,” Mr. Khan tweeted, referring to India. “For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.”
In a 2010 interview with Geo TV, a private Pakistani television network, Dr. Khan said that he had been motivated by the events of 1971, when Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan, broke away to become an independent country following a bloody civil war in which Indian forces backed the separatists.
“My objective in making the atomic bomb was...
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