Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father of the Pakistani bomb," was born in Bhopal, India in 1935 and migrated to Pakistan in 1952. After graduating from the University of Karachi, he studied nuclear engineering in Germany and Belgium, and worked for a time at a uranium enrichment facility run by the Urenco consortium.

Khan returned to Pakistan in 1976 at the request of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who tapped the researcher to start a Pakistani nuclear program. At the time, Khan's pertinent expertise was in building centrifuges to isolate the U-235 isotopes needed to make good nuclear weapons fuel. The Europeans figured out what Khan was doing several years later, and a court in Amsterdam even convicted him for espionage in 1983, but the case was appealed and overturned.

In addition to Khan Research Laboratories, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was also developing a bomb with technical assistance from the Chinese government. By Western intelligence reports, the AEC was much more successful than Khan: their warhead was smaller and more powerful, and so Khan moved on to work on the Ghauri missile program.

However, Khan's bomb designs began to leak out of Pakistan towards the end of the Cold War. In 1990, one of Khan's representatives reportedly visited Iraq and offered to help Saddam Hussein build a nuclear weapon. Although the United Nations sought to question Khan after the evidence came out, they were rebuffed by the Pakistani government, who refused to let them interrogate the scientist. Then, early in 2004, American and European investigators overseeing the deconstruction of Libya's WMD program discovered that Khan had transmitted bomb designs to Libya around the same time, wrapped in plastic bags from a dry cleaner in Islamabad. The price for the plans was reportedly $50 million.

In February, Khan confessed to transmitting bomb designs to Libya and Iran. There is some evidence that he also dealt with Syria and North Korea: in the latter case, many analysts believe that Pakistan gave North Korea its warhead designs in exchange for Taepodong missile plans, although Pervez Musharraf has placed the blame on Khan as an individual, and the U.S. government has been loath to accuse their Pakistani allies of any wrongdoing.

It's hard to call Khan a malevolent scientist, though. He is also in charge of Pakistan's largest pro-literacy campaign, and has personally funded new schools all over the country. Maybe he just has his priorities mixed up.

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