Living on US dole, Pakistan builds fourth plutonium reactor

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ganesh177, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. ganesh177

    ganesh177 Regular Member

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    Living on US dole, Pakistan builds fourth plutonium reactor


    WASHINGTON: Despite being in the throes of a crippling political and economic crisis and almost entirely dependent on handouts from the United States and multilateral aid, Pakistan is poking a finger in the international community's eye. Days after it was revealed that Islamabad has doubled its nuclear weapons' inventory in the past decade, American experts have discovered that it has begun building a fourth plutonium-producing reactor to produce even more nuclear bombs to add to the 100-plus it already has.

    The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) announced on Wednesday that it has obtained commercial satellite imagery from January 15, 2011 that shows what appears to be a fourth reactor under construction at Pakistan's Khushab nuclear site. The reactor construction was not visible during a previous satellite pictures last November.

    "Pakistan is determined to produce considerably more plutonium for nuclear weapons," ISIS said in an outline of the progression of the country's plutonium reactors. While Pakistan's initial nuclear weapons were enriched uranium-based, it expanded to plutonium-based weapons (which are more compact) with the commissioning in 1998 of the first reactor at the Khushab site, which lies southwest of Islamabad. Sometime between 2000 and 2002, Pakistan began constructing a second reactor at the site, and in 2006, it began building a third reactor, adjacent to the second Khushab reactor.

    ISIS, a think-tank with expertise in nuclear proliferation, said that in commercial satellite imagery from December 2009, vapor could be seen rising from some of the second reactor's cooling tower fan blades, indicating that the second reactor was at least at some stage of initial operation. Vapor can again be seen rising from some of the second reactor's cooling towers in the January 15, 2011 imagery, though none can be seen yet over the third reactor's cooling towers, while construction of the fourth has just begun.

    The U.S administration , as usual, is not expected to react to the development amid mounting criticism that it is effectively funding Pakistan's nuclear weapons program because Islamabad does not generate enough revenues on its own and lives on international dole. The country is in such bad shape that its state-owned airline PIA and its railways are now crippled by strikes and shortages. The federal cabinet resigned en masse earlier this week to pave way for a smaller ministry to save money amid growing disquiet about the profligate ways of its politicians and the military.

    But none of this appears to have affected its nuclear program, that in effect are indirectly underwritten by Washington, and which in turn has made no effort to rein in the unstable country's massing of nuclear weapons.

    The Obama administration last month quietly swallowed an expert report that Pakistan had doubled its nuclear weapons stockpile to over 100, much of which happened during the Bush dispensation, and was well on its way to becoming the world's fifth largest nuclear weapons state, overtaking France. While doing so, Pakistan has also blocked a prospective international treaty to end production of fissile material that every other nation wants to bring into force.

    Analysts surmise that Pakistan is pushing the envelope because it believes it has a foot on the American jugular going into Afghanistan and also that it (Pakistan), with a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, "is too big to fail." But some experts are starting to question its premise.

    "Giving the Pakistani government more money because it is 'too big to fail' is a doomed policy in every way except one: it allows us to believe (for the time being) that nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of people who would like to detonate those weapons in Long Beach or Baltimore Harbor," John Ellis, a U.S Consultant wrote this week. Even U.S lawmakers, who signed off on the $ 7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar aid bill, are starting to question their munificence particularly in light of the spat over jailed American national Raymond Davis .

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...rth-plutonium-reactor/articleshow/7467186.cms
     
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  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Nuclear experts say Pakistan may be building 4th plutonium reactor


    Pakistan has begun work on what independent experts say appears to be a fourth plutonium-producing reactor at the country's Khushab nuclear complex, a move that could signal a further escalation in Pakistan's arms race with arch-rival India.
    Commercial satellite photographs taken last month show major new construction at Khushab, a key nuclear installation southwest of Islamabad that generates plutonium for Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

    The new structure is roughly the same size and shape as two plutonium-producing heavy-water reactors located a few hundreds yards away in the heavily guarded compound, according to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington organization that studies nuclear proliferation.

    The building "appears to be a fourth reactor" for producing weapons-grade plutonium, according to the ISIS analysis, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post. ISIS said the facility would substantially expand Islamabad's nuclear capacity by allowing it to produce "more plutonium for nuclear bombs."

    Pakistani officials in Washington, asked about a fourth reactor at Khushab, declined to comment. A U.S. counterproliferation official who reviewed the images declined to comment on the ISIS analysis but said that U.S. intelligence agencies have been monitoring Khushab for years and are "aware of this facility."
    The new reactor, if verified, would signal yet another step forward in Pakistan's ambitious effort to modernize and expand its nuclear arsenal. A Washington Post article last month reported that Pakistan's stockpile was estimated to have grown to more than 100 deployed weapons and to have surpassed that of India.

    The rapid growth of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has fueled fears of an escalating arms race in one of the world's most troubled regions. India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars in 60 years, have launched initiatives in recent years to modernize their nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

    "Another reactor just hammers the point that Pakistan is determined to make a lot of plutonium for nuclear weapons, frankly far more than they need or is healthy for the region and the world," said ISIS President David Albright, who co-authored the report with researcher Paul Brannan.

    The first heavy-water reactor at Khushab became operational in 1996, and a second reactor was inaugurated about a year ago. The two together can generate an estimated 22 kilograms of plutonium a year, enough for up to four bombs. A third reactor is under construction near the second one.

    Satellite images provided by ISIS and the commercial imagery firm DigitalGlobe show work underway on a 16,000-square-foot structure that bears a striking resemblance to the second and third reactors. There was no construction at the site when a satellite took photographs of the area in November, Albright said.

    Olli Heinonen, former director of safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the new reactor was "worrying, given the unstable situation there."

    "Commissioning of additional plutonium-production reactors and further construction of reprocessing capabilities signify that Pakistan may even be developing second-strike capabilities," said Heinonen, now a senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
     
  4. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    MUMBAI: The global nuclear watchdog has approved the safeguards agreement between Pakistan and China for building two new nuclear power reactors at the existing facility at Chashma in Pakistan.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously approved the agreement at a meeting of its Board of Governors in Vienna yesterday.

    "It is only a technical agreement between Pakistan and China. It was approved unanimously," an IAEA official said.

    India is a member of the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors.

    The agreement enables Pakistan to procure nuclear reactors from China and the IAEA rules do not prohibit such transfers.

    However, a nod from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) would be necessary to enable such transfers. The 45-member NSG controls export or transfer of nuclear materials between countries to ensure they are used only for civilian nuclear energy programmes.

    The IAEA official said the global nuclear watchdog had nothing to say on NSG clearances for the agreement.
     

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