[FOUNTAIN]Pakistan hero suspected of dark dealsAccording to Kim Jin-myeong’s best-selling novel, “The Rose of Sharon Has Bloomed,” Korea was on the verge of becoming a nuclear power after a successful underground nuclear experiment on Aug. 15, 1980. But unfortunately, the plan was ruined after the genius physicist, the protagonist of the novel, died in a mysterious car accident.
The fiction was based on a real person, Dr. Lee Hwi-so, a Korean-American theoretical physicist. Dr. Lee actually opposed the idea of arming Korea with nuclear weapons, and was not related to the fictional nuclear development project at all. He died in a car accident in the United States.
But the novel became a bestseller in 1993, the year Japan imported plutonium en masse. Maybe Koreans secretly hoped the country would become a nuclear power.
Mr. Kim’s novel was never realized in Korea, but it came true in Pakistan. The main character in this story is Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan, a metallurgical engineer born in 1935, the same year Dr. Lee was born in. Dr. Khan is considered the “father of Islamic bombs” in Arab countries, and revered as a national hero in Pakistan.
Dr. Khan had access to classified files and blueprints in URENCO, where he worked as a researcher in the Netherlands in the early 1970s. URENCO is a facility where European nations jointly research uranium enrichment. The institute had successfully enriched uranium, whose power was equal to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
In 1975, Dr. Khan returned to Pakistan and was appointed the head of the national nuclear research institute. In 1983, a Dutch court sentenced Dr. Khan to four years in prison for stealing nuclear technology in a judgment-by-default.
In an interview in 1987, Dr. Khan boasted that he had developed nuclear weapons on his own in only seven years. He reportedly provided Pyeongyang with uranium enrichment technology in the 1990s, and received missile technology in return.
Recently, the Pakistani government investigated Dr. Khan for selling nuclear information, and he was put under house arrest.
The Western world is now paying attention to the hero of Pakistan, who made his country into a nuclear power, because he may be a dangerous dealer of nuclear technology.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.