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Abdul Qadeer Khan: Father of Pakistan's nuclear program dies at 85

CNN logo CNN 10/11/2021 By Sophia Saifi, CNN
Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan waves as he walks in a garden in Islamabad on February 7, 2009. Pakistan sought to allay international concerns that the release of its disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan could lead to renewed nuclear proliferation. Khan, 72, was freed by a court on 6 February. He has been under a virtual house arrest in Islamabad since February 2004, when he publicly confessed to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images) © FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan waves as he walks in a garden in Islamabad on February 7, 2009. Pakistan sought to allay international concerns that the release of its disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan could lead to renewed nuclear proliferation. Khan, 72, was freed by a court on 6 February. He has been under a virtual house arrest in Islamabad since February 2004, when he publicly confessed to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images)

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, has died in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, according to the country's Ministry of Information. He was 85 years old.

Khan was given a state funeral at Islamabad's Faisal Mosque on Sunday. The funeral, attended by thousands of mourners including Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, was held in pouring rain.

Khan was hailed as a national hero in Pakistan for helping make the country a nuclear-armed state, but was viewed by many in the West as a villain.

In the United States, Khan was best known for selling nuclear technology to nations such as North Korea and Iran. In 2004, at the urging of the US, Pakistani authorities placed Khan under house arrest.


Video: Rare state funeral takes place for father of Pakistan's nuclear program (CNN)

Khan was released in 2009, but his movements in and out of the country were still severely curtailed by the country's security agencies.

The US State Department said that year that Khan had run an "extensive international network for the proliferation of nuclear equipment and know-how that provided 'one stop shopping' for countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons."

According to the State Department, this network's actions had "irrevocably changed the proliferation landscape and have had lasting implications for international security."

By Sunday afternoon, tributes had started pouring in for Khan. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted he was "deeply saddened by the passing of Dr A Q Khan."

"He was loved by our nation (because) of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state. This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbor. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon," Khan said.

Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Choudhry said in a statement that Khan's "services for the nation and his contributions for strengthening Pakistan's defense will always be remembered."

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