Khushab Complex

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A backgrounder

Nuclear Threat Initiative

OTHER NAME: Khushab Nuclear Complex

LOCATION: Khushab District, Punjab; Approximately 200km SW of Islamabad

SUBORDINATE TO: Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)

SIZE: Four ~50MW reactors and a heavy water plant

FACILITY STATUS: Three operational reactors, one under construction

The Khushab Complex is the main source of Pakistan's weapons-grade plutonium for its nuclear weapons program. Because Pakistan is an NPT-outlier, the complex is not under IAEA Safeguards.

Khushab-1 is a 40-50MW plutonium production reactor, moderated by heavy water and utilizing natural uranium fuel. [1] Construction of Khushab-1—reportedly with Chinese assistance—began in 1987, and the reactor commenced operations in 1998. [2] Pakistan officially announced operations at Khushab-1 prior to its nuclear weapons tests. [3] Khushab-2 and -3 are estimated to be 50MW plutonium production reactors also moderated by heavy water. Construction on Khushab-4 is currently ongoing. It appears to be modeled after the Khushab-2 and -3 design, although the layout is somewhat modified. [4]

Once all four reactors are online, Pakistan can produce approximately 24-48 kg of weapons-grade plutonium a year. [5]

Heavy water is produced on-site, and the local facility began operations in April 1998. It has an estimated production capacity of between 50 and 100 tons of heavy water per year. [6]

Spent fuel is reprocessed at the New Labs Facility near Rawalpindi, and Pakistan has likely been accumulating weapons-grade plutonium since 2000.

See also

Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

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