Mumbai: Former Atomic Energy Commission
chairman PK Iyengar, who played an important role in the
country`s first nuclear explosion in 1974, died here this
afternoon following a brief illness. He was 80.
"The end came at 3.30 pm at BARC Hospital here due to
complications arising from lung infection," his son Dr
Srinivas Iyengar told agency.
He is survived by wife, son and a daughter. Both the
children are scientists.
A noted nuclear physicist and scientist, Iyengar was a
recipient of Padma Bhushan and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award.
A former secretary, department of atomic energy,
(1990-93), Iyengar had a keen interest in developing
indigenous experimental facilities such as neutron
diffractometers and neutron scattering spectrometers.
Iyengar was one of the key figures in the Operation
Smiling Buddha -- the first peaceful nuclear explosion at
Pokhran on May 18, 1974 -- as second-in-command of operation
leader Raja Ramanna.
After post-graduation in Physics from Kerala University,
Iyengar started his career with the Tata Institute of
Fundamental Research in 1952. Three years later, he joined
the then Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay and was soon
deputed to the Chalk River Laboratories of the Canadian Atomic
After returning from Canada, Iyengar built a number of
experimental facilities, including neutron diffractometers and
neutron scattering spectrometers around research reactors
Apsara and Cirus. He was also involved in the design and
setting up of the first fast reactor critical facility
Purnima-I, which achieved its first criticality on May 18,
After holding several responsibilities at BARC, he became
its director in 1984.
As director, one of his first responsibilities was to
take charge of the construction of Dhruva reactor, the
completion of which was then in question.
He provided a crucial leadership in resolving many
technical challenges encountered in commissioning of Dhruva.
Some of the key positions he held included scientific
adviser to Kerala government, member of board of the global
technology development centre and president of the Indian
Interestingly, Iyengar was very critical of the Indo-US
nuclear deal, on the ground that it was tilted in favour of