“We will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one (Atom bomb) of our own... We have no other choice!”

–Zufikar Ali Bhutto

 

On 11th March 1983, Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear cold-test, bringing to a close Project-706, first launched in 1974.

A cold-test is a test involving nuclear materials and high-explosives that purposefully results in no yield, and is now the only type of test allowed under the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty.

Project-706 was the codename of a program to develop Pakistan’s first atomic bomb weapon using uranium. It was launched under Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and continued operating under the administration of General Zia-ul-Haq. Preliminary research leading to the project was headed by Dr. Abdus Salam, while 1974 onwards, the research was led by engineers Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The initial cost of the program, US$450 million, was funded by Libya and Saudi Araba. The project’s initiation stemmed from Pakistan’s fear of Indian aggression following the 1967 war, and was a step towards Pakistan’s goal of developing nuclear technology. The nine-year program was disbanded after the conduction of the cold-test in March 1983. Project-706 was a significant step in Pakistan’s foray into becoming a nuclear power – made successful in 1998 - and has been recognized by TIME magazine as Pakistan’s equivalent to the US’s Manhattan Project.