Pakistan's nuclear arms push angers America - Telegraph The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based nuclear watchdog, has obtained satellite images showing that a row of cooling towers at Pakistan's secret Khushab-III reactor has been completed. This suggests the plant could begin operation within months, allowing Pakistan substantially to increase its stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium. Pakistan has been secretly accelerating the pace of its nuclear weapons programme, infuriating the US which is trying to cap worldwide stocks of fissile material and improve fraught relations with a fragile ally in the Afghanistan war. Last year, Barack Obama, US president, called for "a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials". In response, the Conference on Disarmament, a 64-nation coalition that negotiated the 1992 Chemical Weapons convention and the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, agreed to negotiate a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty, intended to cap production of weapons-grade enriched uranium and most forms of plutonium. But Pakistan, which is deepening its nuclear ties to China, has blocked the Conference on Disarmament from starting discussions, saying a cut-off would hurt its national security interests. Ashley Tellis, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "Pakistan thinks its going to be forced to cap its fissile material stocks and wants to make sure it has as much as it can get before then." The country's position has frustrated many states. Rose Gottmeiler, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, recently warned that her country's "patience is running out". Khushab-III is the latest in a series of reactors built to feed Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme. Khushab-II, located next to its new sister plant, became operational in February. The plutonium produced at the complex allows for the construction of small but lethal weapons: a single kilogram can produce an explosion equal to 20,000 tons of conventional explosives. Work at Khushab III has forged ahead even as Pakistan struggles to cope with floods that have inflicted damage estimated at Â£27 billionâ€“and amid mounting concerns over the long-term security of the strife-devastated country's nuclear arsenal. Pakistan argues that its nuclear weapons programme is necessary to counter the superior conventional forces of India, its historic adversary. In a recent report published by the prestigious Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimated it had assembled 70-90 nuclear warheads to India's 60-80, and had produced enough fissile material to manufacture another 90 more. The Obama administration is also disturbed by Chinese plans to build two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan, bypassing Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules that bar sales of nuclear equipment to states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India, which along with Israel and Pakistan has refused to sign the NPT, recently obtained a waiver from the NSG allowing sales under international safeguards. China, however, says it does not need NSG permission to sell reactors to Pakistan, arguing it had committed to the deal before it joined the NSG in 2004â€“a claim the United States disputes.