Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL)

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A backgrounder

Nuclear Threat Initiative

OTHER NAME: Khan Research Laboratories; Engineering Research Laboratories

LOCATION: Kahuta, Punjab Province

SUBORDINATE TO: Government of Pakistan

SIZE: Numerous buildings in a 1 square kilometer compound


Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) is Pakistan's key uranium enrichment facility, which utilizes gas centrifuges to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU). It is not under IAEA safeguards.

In 1975, Pakistan's President Z.A. Bhutto approved the construction of a centrifuge enrichment facility in Kahuta, then named Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL). The following year, Dr. Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan returned to Pakistan from studies in the Netherlands, bringing with him stolen centrifuge designs from Ultra-Centrifuge Nederland (UCN), a member of the URENCO Uranium enrichment consortium. After A.Q. Khan assumed control of ERL in July 1976, the laboratories were renamed Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in May 1981.

Khan established an elaborate procurement network to obtain nuclear technology for KRL. Khan claims to have reached the capability to enrich to weapons-grade (90%) uranium by early 1983. By 1992, KRL was reportedly operating 3,000 P-2 centrifuges, which could produce between 45 and 75 kilograms of HEU per year. Recent reports claim that KRL began work on advanced P-3 and P-4 centrifuges in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which would have significantly enhanced Pakistan's enrichment capabilities. While KRL's exact enrichment capability is unknown. As of 2010, Pakistan is believed to have produced, from all of its enrichment facilities, a total of 2.7 tons of HEU, ± 1 ton.

In July 2009, a suicide bomber attacked a bus transporting workers to KRL, highlighting international concerns regarding the security of Pakistan's nuclear facilities.

See also

Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

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