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Pakistan, India: New nuclear weapons
Recently it became known that Pakistan has produced 720 kg of High-Enriched
Uranium (HEU) and 10 kg of separated plutonium. Pakistan continues to
operate an upgraded reprocessing plant for the production of plutonium
for weapons. Now, nuclear scientists in Pakistan and its enemy India
urge their governments to allow new nuclear tests, to make their nuclear
deterrence more convincing.
(539.5225) WISE Amsterdam - India needs to have 150 nuclear weapons,
said a convener of the National Security Council Advisory Board on Indian
television. From all countries with a nuclear program, there are only
three that did not ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): Pakistan,
India and Israel. This means that their nuclear bomb materials are not
controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In 1998
Pakistan and India openly tested several nuclear bombs. Both countries
have decided to develop a minimal nuclear deterrence.
Pakistan decided to produce nuclear weapons back in the sixties. The
program was speeded up after the Indian nuclear test in 1974. It chose
to produce two sorts of nuclear weapon materials: High Enriched Uranium
(HEU) and plutonium. Pakistan obtained uranium enrichment technology
by espionage from the Urenco company in The Netherlands and imported
the needed materials and facilities, mostly from Western countries,
in order to construct its own uranium enrichment plants at Kahuta and
Golra. Their first nuclear weapons, made of HEU produced in these plants,
were tested in May 1998. It is said that Pakistan has produced 720 kg
of HEU, enough for the production of about 30 nuclear weapons.
During the seventies Pakistan imported a pilot reprocessing plant, which
is able to separate plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. This pilot reprocessing
plant was built at Rawalpindi. It has presently a production capacity
of 8-10 kg plutonium per year. In 1972 Pakistan's first nuclear power
reactor went into commercial operation at Karachi, the Kanupp reactor
with 137 MW. This reactor however was and is under safeguards inspections
from the IAEA. Therefore it was not possible to extract plutonium from
the spent fuel of Kanupp for military purposes and so the reprocessing
plant was idle. In early 1998 the unsafeguarded plutonium reactor at
Khushab, with about 50 MWth, came into operation, after eleven years
of construction. This reactor is able to produce up to 15 kg of plutonium
a year. Many reports state that China has supplied equipment or technical
assistance for it.
Parallel to the opening of the Khushab reactor, the reprocessing plant
was put into operation to reprocess the spent fuel. Most of the reprocessing
plant was bought from Belgonucleaire, some technology from SGN in France.
By now the reactor has produced enough plutonium for one plutonium fission
core and the reprocessing plant has been operating at a rate to produce
enough separated plutonium for an explosive device a year. Nuclear scientists
and the military in Pakistan urge the government to allow them to do
another nuclear test, with nuclear bombs made of plutonium.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has taken advanced steps
to conduct a fresh nuclear test, in anticipation that India may carry
out a second test of a thermonuclear bomb. India states that the threat
from Pakistan nuclear weapons led them to conduct nuclear tests openly.
Both countries justify their own nuclear weapons program by the threat
from their neighbor's nuclear program.
The first Indian hydrogen bomb test in 1998,
next to the fission tests, was a partial failure. India first claimed
it was a success, but several countries, including the US, contested
their claim and said it did not work well. After some discussion in
India, nuclear weapon scientists now acknowledge the test was not
a complete success. They too urge their government to allow them to
carry out a second test of a thermonuclear weapon. Pakistan and India
aim to have a "minimal nuclear deterrence", which means
to be able to deliver nuclear bombs by airplanes, ships and missiles.
The US urges both Pakistan and India to sign the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT), the treaty which forbids nuclear testing. Russia
also urged India to sign the CTBT. India might sign it soon after
their second hydrogen bomb test.
This summer, a Chinese-built nuclear power reactor was completed in
Pakistan, the 325 MW Chashma reactor. As a NPT member state, China
is obliged to obey to the NPT rules, which forbid the export of nuclear
equipment and reactors to countries not accepting full-scope safeguards.
China exported it in spite of their obligation as NPT member to accept
Full-Scope Safeguards (FSS) on all nuclear exports.
Full-scope safeguards (FSS) mean that all nuclear facilities in a
non-nuclear weapon state are under IAEA safeguards. When the NPT was
indefinitely extended in 1995, FSS was cited as a trade requirement
by NPT's members, as the 12th of a list of Principles and Objectives,
agreed to by consensus.
During the review of the NPT in May this year, the principle of Full-Scope
Safeguards (FSS) regarding nuclear exports was again agreed on by
consensus in the final conference document. China agreed not to block
the FSS measure, after members of the Non-Aligned Movement strongly
objected that China was the only NPT state not accepting FSS as a
nuclear trade principle. China formally objected to the FSS, under
pressure of the Chinese nuclear industry. It said it would continue
exporting nuclear facilities and nuclear fuel to Pakistan and nuclear
fuel to India. The Non-Aligned Movement countries agreed to the FSS
to isolate Pakistan and India.
· Nucleonics Week, 1 May, 29 May, 1 June, 8 June, 15 June, 19 October
and 26 November 2000
· NuclearFuel, 29 May, 12 June and 18 September 2000
· The Hindu, 11 November 2000
· Friday Times, 18 Nov. 2000
In Pakistan no FSS are applied, because Pakistan
is neither one of the five official nuclear weapon states, nor a NPT
member. The two "commercial" nuclear reactors in Pakistan
are inspected by the IAEA under bilateral safeguards agreements. All
other, military nuclear facilities in Pakistan, including uranium
enrichment plants in Kahuta and Golra, the Khushab reactor, a heavy
water production plant and the reprocessing plant, are not safeguarded
by IAEA inspectors. But China, as an NPT member, is only allowed to
export nuclear facilities to Pakistan if all their nuclear facilities
are under IAEA safeguards.
In the meantime, Russia is planning to export two nuclear reactors
to India. In the midst of the NPT review this spring, the Russian
Minister of Atomic Energy, Adamov, re-stated these plans. The reactors
are to be built at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. But Russia is a member
of the NPT and of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which since 1993
required that non-nuclear weapon states have FSS in place, as a condition
of nuclear trade with NSG members.
Russia did not join China in formally objecting to FSS, so it would
certainly violate the NPT by exporting reactors to India. Later on
the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was in "firm
control" of Russian nuclear export policy and that it would overrule
any efforts by Adamov and the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom)
to break the rules of the NPT and the NSG. Since late 1999, Minatom
and the Indian Department of Atomic Energy intensively discussed further
nuclear cooperation in the area of nuclear reactor construction, nuclear
safety and fast breeder development, Indian sources said in August
The US and other NSG members first objected to the deal, but later
allowed Russia to claim that the sales, although contracted after
1993, were part of an earlier nuclear cooperation agreement dating
from the 1980s. An official of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that
Minatom was motivated to push Putin to open nuclear exports to India
"because it is desperate for money." Minatom even proposed
to offer both India and Pakistan a legally ambiguous "quasi-nuclear-weapons-state
status", outside the NPT, to legitimate intensified nuclear trade
by Minatom with these states. But as long as the Foreign Ministry
has the upper hand in setting the nuclear proliferation policy, it
is stated, Minatom's efforts will have no success.