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Pakistan Expanding Nuclear Program

Discussion in 'Pakistan Strategic Forces' started by A.Rahman, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. A.Rahman

    A.Rahman ELITE MEMBER

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    Pakistan Expanding Nuclear Program

    Plant Underway Could Generate Plutonium for 40 to 50 Bombs a Year, Analysts Say


    Pakistan has begun building what independent analysts say is a powerful new reactor for producing plutonium, a move that, if verified, would signal a major expansion of the country's nuclear weapons capabilities and a potential new escalation in the region's arms race.

    Satellite photos of Pakistan's Khushab nuclear site show what appears to be a partially completed heavy-water reactor capable of producing enough plutonium for 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year, a 20-fold increase from Pakistan's current capabilities, according to a technical assessment by Washington-based nuclear experts.

    The construction site is adjacent to Pakistan's only plutonium production reactor, a modest, 50-megawatt unit that began operating in 1998. By contrast, the dimensions of the new reactor suggest a capacity of 1,000 megawatts or more, according to the analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security. Pakistan is believed to have 30 to 50 uranium warheads, which tend to be heavier and more difficult than plutonium warheads to mount on missiles.

    "South Asia may be heading for a nuclear arms race that could lead to arsenals growing into the hundreds of nuclear weapons, or at minimum, vastly expanded stockpiles of military fissile material," the institute's David Albright and Paul Brannan concluded in the technical assessment, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post.

    The assessment's key judgments were endorsed by two other independent nuclear experts who reviewed the commercially available satellite images, provided by Digital Globe, and supporting data. In Pakistan, officials would not confirm or deny the report, but a senior Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that a nuclear expansion was underway.

    "Pakistan's nuclear program has matured. We're now consolidating the program with further expansions," the official said. The expanded program includes "some civilian nuclear power and some military components," he said.

    The development raises fresh concerns about a decades-old rivalry between Pakistan and India. Both countries already possess dozens of nuclear warheads and a variety of missiles and other means for delivering them.

    Pakistan, like India, has never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One of its pioneering nuclear scientists, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who confessed two years ago to operating a network that supplied nuclear materials and know-how to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

    The evidence of a possible escalation also comes as Congress prepares to debate a controversial nuclear cooperation agreement between the Bush administration and India. The agreement would grant India access to sensitive U.S. nuclear technology in return for placing its civilian nuclear reactors under tighter safeguards.
    No such restrictions were placed on India's military nuclear facilities.

    India currently has an estimated 30 to 35 nuclear warheads based on a sophisticated plutonium design. Pakistan, which uses a simpler, uranium-based warhead design, has sought for years to modernize its arsenal, and a new heavy-water reactor could allow it to do so, weapons experts say.

    "With plutonium bombs, Pakistan can fully join the nuclear club," said a Europe-based diplomat and nuclear expert, speaking on condition that he not be identified by name, after reviewing the satellite evidence. He concurred with the Institute for Science and International Security assessment but offered a somewhat lower estimate -- "up to tenfold" -- for the increase in Pakistan's plutonium production. A third, U.S.-based expert concurred fully with the institute's estimates.

    Pakistan launched its nuclear program in the early 1970s and conducted its first successful nuclear test in 1998.
     
  2. A.Rahman

    A.Rahman ELITE MEMBER

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    The completion of the first, 50-megawatt plutonium production reactor in Pakistan's central Khushab district was seen as a step toward modernizing the country's arsenal. The reactor is capable of producing about 10 kilograms of plutonium a year, enough for about two warheads.

    Construction of the larger reactor at Khushab apparently began sometime in 2000. Satellite photos taken in the spring of 2005 showed the frame of a rectangular building enclosing what appeared to be the round metal shell of a large nuclear reactor. A year later, in April 2006, the roof of the structure was still incomplete, allowing a unobstructed view of the reactor's features

    "The fact that the roof is still off strikes me as a sign that Pakistan is neither rushing nor attempting to conceal," said Albright of the institute.

    The slow pace of construction could suggest difficulties in obtaining parts, or simply that other key facilities for plutonium bomb-making are not yet in place, the institute report concludes. Pakistan would probably need to expand its capacity for producing heavy water for its new reactor, as well as its ability to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract the plutonium, the report says.

    After comparing a sequence of satellite photos, the institute analysts estimated that the new reactor was still "a few years" from completion. The diameter of the structure's metal shell suggests a very large reactor "operating in excess of 1,000 megawatts thermal," the report says.

    "Such a reactor could produce over 200 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium per year, assuming it operates at full power a modest 220 days per year," it says. "At 4 to 5 kilograms of plutonium per weapon, this stock would allow the production of over 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year."

    There was no immediate reaction to the report from the Bush administration. Albright said he shared his data with government nuclear analysts, who did not dispute his conclusions and appeared to already know about the new reactor.

    "If there's an increasing risk of an arms race in South Asia, why hasn't this already been introduced into the debate?" Albright asked. He said the Pakistani development adds urgency to calls for a treaty halting the production of fissile material used in nuclear weapons.

    "The United States needs to push more aggressively for a fissile material cut-off treaty, and so far it has not," he said.

    Special correspondent Kamran Khan in Karachi, Pakistan, and researcher Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report
     
  3. sparten

    sparten SENIOR MEMBER

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    Excellent.
     
  4. Officer of Engineers

    Officer of Engineers FULL MEMBER

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    We have no evidence that Pakistan have mastered Pu nukes.
     
  5. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR FULL MEMBER

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    PAEC has the distinction of mastering both Plutonium and Uranuim warheads for Pakistan's Nuclear Strategic forces. 2 of the six nuclear tests in 1998 were infact based on Plutonium , while four were based on enriched Uranium produced at Kahuta.
    So, this new reactor is only the begining of Pakistan's drive to become a full fledged Nuclear Weapons state with a triad of Air, Land and Sea based weapons capability.
     
  6. Arrow

    Arrow FULL MEMBER

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    Wheres the evidence?
     
  7. Neo

    Neo RETIRED

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    Go Pakistan! :flag: :flag: :flag:
     
  8. Owais

    Owais SENIOR MEMBER

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    Plutonium Nukes!!?? manufactured in pakistan??
    I only heard about uranium bombs manufactued in pakistan.
     
  9. Spring Onion

    Spring Onion PDF VETERAN

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    It is great news if its true otherwise u see these Analysts hands in gloves with the western Media ;)
    Always bring out something in the Media to pressurise us.
    Anyway i hope this could be true :smile:
     
  10. Owais

    Owais SENIOR MEMBER

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    US urges Pakistan not to use new reactor for weapons WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday confirmed but played down news reports that Pakistan is building a powerful new nuclear reactor and urged Islamabad not to use the facility for military purposes.

    "We have been aware of these plans and we discourage any use of that facility for military purposes such as weapons development," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

    The Washington Post, citing US-based nuclear experts reported that the reactor could produce enough plutonium for 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year, a 20-fold increase from Pakistan's current capabilities.

    "Pakistan of course is outside the non proliferation treaty and therefore they do develop their capabilities independently," Snow said.

    The move could signal a potential new escalation in the region's arms race between pits nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

    The construction site is adjacent to Pakistan's only plutonium production reactor, a 50-megawatt unit that began operating in 1998, it said.

    By contrast, the dimensions of the new reactor suggest a capacity of 1,000 megawatts or more, according to the analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, it said.
     
  11. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR FULL MEMBER

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    US calls on Pakistan to avoid using new atomic reactor
    WASHINGTON, July 24 (AFP) Jul 24, 2006
    The United States on Monday urged Pakistan not to use a powerful new atomic reactor under construction to bolster its nuclear weapons capability amid warnings of a new South Asia arms race.
    The US administration confirmed it knew about the reactor at Pakistan's Khushab nuclear complex after satellite images were released by a US nuclear non-proliferation group.
    The International Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the heavy water reactor could produce more than 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of weapons grade plutonium a year. This would be enough to make 40-50 nuclear weapons every year.
    Pakistan is believed to currently have 30-50 uranium warheads in all, "which tend to be heavier and more difficult than plutonium warheads to mount on missiles," the Washington Post reported Monday.
    "South Asia may be heading for a nuclear arms race that could lead to arsenals growing into the hundreds of nuclear weapons, or at a minimum vastly expanded stockpiles of military fissile material," the ISIS warned.
    White House spokesman Tony Snow said: "We have been aware of these plans and we discourage any use of that facility for military purposes such as weapons development."
    He added: "Pakistan of course is outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore they do develop their capabilities independently."
    Neither Pakistan nor India are signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and as the US Congress prepares to hold new debates on a proposed civilian nuclear cooperation deal with India, the ISIS report on Pakistan has set alarm bells ringing among some lawmakers who oppose the India deal.
    Representative Ed Markey, the Democratic co-chairman of the Bipartisan Taskforce on Nonproliferation, said: "The nuclear arms race in South Asia is about to ignite, and instead of doing everything possible to stop this vicious cycle, the Bush Administration is throwing fuel on the fire.
    "If either India or Pakistan starts increasing its nuclear arsenal, the other side will respond in kind; and the Bush Administration's proposed nuclear deal with India is making that much more likely."
    He called on President George W. Bush to press India and Pakistan to suspend production of bomb-grade fissile materials while an international treaty limiting bomb-making material stockpiles is negotiated.
    "Both Pakistan and India need to reverse their decisions to increase their nuclear arsenals, and take a step back from the brink," Markey said.
    Khushab is in Pakistan's Punjab province. The new reactor is adjacent to Pakistan's only plutonium production reactor, a 50-megawatt unit that began operating in 1998.
    The dimensions of the new reactor suggest a capacity of 1,000 megawatts or more, according to ISIS experts David Albright and Paul Brannan.
    Pakistan would not confirm plans for the new reactor. In Islamabad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said the existence of the Khushab nuclear facility "ought to be no revelation to anyone because Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state.
    "I have no specific comments on Pakistan's facility or details of the facility and our programme in this sector."
    India made no immediate comment about the ISIS report or the US administration's reaction.
    The ISIS also called for accelerated efforts to reach agreement to halt production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
    "Not only are such arsenals a waste of precious resources, they increase instability in the region and could needlessly provoke China to respond by increasing the size and lethality of its own nuclear capabilities," said the ISIS report. :flag:




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  12. genmirajborgza786

    genmirajborgza786 PDF VETERAN

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    this is great news ALHUMDULILLAH way to go pakistan:army:
    long live pakistan long live our nuclear program:cheers: :flag:
     
  13. MOO

    MOO FULL MEMBER

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    The Bush Administration should've thought twice on the consequences for signing the US-Indian Nuclear deal. Cmon, you expect Pakistan to sit there and play D-umb while India recieves newer technology to build more sophisticated Nuclear weaponry?
     
  14. sigatoka

    sigatoka SENIOR MEMBER

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    How exactly do u arrive at the 800 figure? I mean wouldnt 300 warheads do the same job and be much cheaper?
     
  15. Sid

    Sid SENIOR MEMBER

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    Its not about destroying India or whoever. Its about keeping a qualitative minimum deterrance level as is evident from Pakistan's strategy of avoiding an aggressor to even think about an offensive against Pakistani territory.

    Plutonium nuclear warheads would strengthen Pakistani arsenal and would be a major step forward towards consolidating its forces.