Military Wiki
Location of Pakistan
Nuclear program start date January 20, 1972
First nuclear weapon test May 28, 1998 (Chagai-I)[1]
First fusion weapon test N/A[2][3]
Last nuclear test May 30, 1998 (Chagai-II)
Largest yield test 25–40 kt in 1998
(PAEC claim)[1][4][5][6]
Total tests 6 detonations[1]
Peak stockpile 110-120 warheads
(2013 estimate)[7]
Current stockpile (usable and not) 110-120 warheads[7]
Maximum missile range 4,500 km (Shaheen-III)[8]

Pakistan began focusing on nuclear weapons development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who delegated the program to the Chairman of PAEC Munir Ahmad Khan. In 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan also joined the nuclear weapons program, and, with Zahid Ali Akbar, headed the Kahuta Project, while the rest of the program being run in PAEC and comprising over twenty laboratories and projects was headed by Munir Ahmad Khan.[9] This program would reach fruition under President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, then-Chief of Army Staff. Pakistan's nuclear weapons development was in response to neighboring India's development of nuclear weapons. Bhutto called a meeting of senior academic scientists and engineers on 20 January 1972, in Multan, which came to known as "Multan meeting".[citation needed] Bhutto was the main architect of this programme and it was here that Bhutto orchestrated nuclear weapons programme and rallied Pakistan's academic scientists to build the atomic bomb for national survival.[10] At the Multan meeting, Bhutto also appointed nuclear engineer, Munir Ahmad Khan, as chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), who, until then, had been working as Director at the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna, Austria. In December 1972, Abdus Salam led the establishment of Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) as he called scientists working at ICTP to report to Munir Ahmad Khan. This marked the beginning of Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear detterence capability. Following India's surprise nuclear test, codenamed Smiling Buddha in 1974, the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council, the goal to develop nuclear weapons received considerable impetus.[11]

Finally, on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India's second nuclear test (Operation Shakti), Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras Koh Hills in the Chagai district, Balochistan. This operation was named Chagai-I by Pakistan, the underground iron-steel tunnel having been long-constructed by provincial Martial Law Administrator General Rahimuddin Khan during the 1980s. The last test of Pakistan was conducted at the sandy Kharan Desert under a codename Chagai-II, also in Balochistan, on May 30, 1998. Pakistan's fissile material production takes place at Nilore, Kahuta, and Khushab/Jauharabad, where weapons-grade plutonium is made by the scientists. Pakistan thus became the 7th country in the world to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons.[12] There are also reports that the nuclear weapon technology and the weapon-grade enriched uranium was transferred to Pakistan by China.[13]

History of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program

Nuclear development and non-weapon policy

The uneasy relationships with India, Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union, and the energy shortage explains its nuclear policy to become a nuclear power as part of its defence strategy.[14] On 8 December 1953, Pakistan media press welcomed the U.S. Atoms for Peace initiatives, followed by the establishment of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in 1956.[15] In 1953, Foreign minister Sir Zafarullah Khan publicly stated that "Pakistan does not have a policy towards the atom bombs".[16] Following the announcement, on 11 August 1955, U.S. and Pakistan reached an understanding concerning the peaceful and industrial use of nuclear energy which also includes a $350,000 worth pool-type reactor.[16] Before 1971, Pakistan's nuclear development was peaceful but an effective deterrent against India, as Benazir Bhutto maintained in 1995.[14] Pakistan followed a strict non-nuclear weapon policy since 1956 until 1971, and major proposals were made in 1960s by several officials and senior scientists but PAEC under its chairman Ishrat Hussain Usmani made no efforts to acquire nuclear fuel cycle for the purposes of active nuclear weapons programme.[16]

After the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, Foreign minister (later Prime minister) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto aggressively began the advocating the option of "nuclear weapons programmes" but such attempts were dismissed by Finance minister Muhammad Shoaib and chairman I.H. Usmani.[16] Pakistani scientists and engineers' working at IAEA became aware of advancing Indian nuclear program towards making the bombs. Therefore, On October 1965, Munir Ahmad Khan, director at the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with Bhutto on emergency basis in Vienna, revealing the facts about the Indian nuclear programme and a weapon production facility in Trombay. At this meeting Munir Khan concluded: "a (nuclear) India would further undermine and threaten Pakistan's security, and for her survival, Pakistan needed a nuclear deterrent...".[citation needed]

Understanding the sensitivity of the issue, Bhutto arranged a meeting with President Ayub Khan December 11, 1965 at Dorchester Hotel in London. Munir Khan pointed out to the President that Pakistan must acquire the necessary facilities that would give the country a nuclear weapon capability, which were available free of safeguards and at an affordable cost, and there were no restrictions on nuclear technology, that it was freely available, and that India was moving forward in deploying it, as Munir Khan maintained.[citation needed] When asked about the economics of such programme, Munir Ahmad Khan estimated the cost of nuclear technology at that time. Because things were less expensive, the then costs were not more than US$150 million, after hearing the proposal President Ayub Khan swiftly denied the proposal and quoted: "Pakistan was too poor to spend that much money. Moreover, President Ayub Khan mentioned that if Pakistan ever needed the (atom) bomb, Pakistan could somehow acquire it off the shelf..".[citation needed]

Although Pakistan began the development of nuclear weapons in 1972, Pakistan responded to India's 1974 nuclear test (see Smiling Buddha) with a number of proposals to prevent a nuclear competition in South Asia.[17] On many different occasions, India rejected the offer.[17]

Nuclear energy development

Pakistan's nuclear energy programme was established and started in 1956 following the establishment of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). Pakistan became a participant in U.S President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace Program." PAEC's first chairman was Dr. Nazir Ahmad.[citation needed] In 1961, the PAEC set up a Mineral Center at Lahore and a similar multidisciplinary Center was set up in Dhaka, in the then East Pakistan. With these two centers, the basic research work started.[citation needed]

The first thing that was to be undertaken was the search for Uranium. This continued for about 3 years from 1960 to 1963. Uranium deposits were discovered in the Dera Ghazi Khan district and the first-ever national award was given to the PAEC. Mining of uranium began in the same year. Dr. Abdus Salam and Dr. Ishrat Hussain Usmani also sent a large number of scientists to pursue doctorate degrees in the field of Nuclear Technology and Nuclear reactor technology. In December 1965, then-Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Vienna where he met IAEA nuclear engineer, Munir Ahmad Khan. At a Vienna meeting on December, Munir A. Khan informed Bhutto about the status of Indian nuclear program.[citation needed]

The next landmark under Dr. Abdus Salam was the establishment of PINSTECH – Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, at Nilore near Islamabad. The principal facility there was a 5MWe research reactor, commissioned in 1965 and consisting of the PARR-I, which was upgraded to 10 MWe by Nuclear Engineering Division under Munir Ahmad Khan in 1990.[18] A second Atomic Research Reactor, known as PARR-II, was a Pool-type, light-water, 27-30 kWe, training reactor that went critical in 1989 under Munir Ahmad Khan.[19] The PARR-II reactor was built and provided by PAEC under the IAEA safeguards as IAEA had funded this mega project.[19] The PARR-I reactor was, under the agreement signed by PAEC and ANL, provided by the United States Government in 1965, and scientists from PAEC and ANL had led the construction.[18] Canada build Pakistan's first civil-purpose nuclear power plant.[citation needed] The Ayub Khan Military Government made then-Science Advisors to the Government Abdus Salam as the head of the IAEA delegation. Abdus Salam began lobbying for commercial nuclear power plants, and tirelessly advocated for nuclear power in Pakistan.[20] In 1965, Salam's efforts finally paid off, and a Canadian firm signed a deal to provide 137MWe CANDU reactor in Paradise Point, Karachi. The construction began in 1966 as PAEC its general contractor as GE Canada provided nuclear materials and financial assistance. Its project director was Parvez Butt, a nuclear engineer, and its construction completed in 1972. Known as KANUPP-I, it was inaugurated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as president, and began its operations in November 1972. Currently, Pakistan Government is planning to build another 400MWe commercial nuclear power plant. Having known as KANUPP-II, the PAEC completed its feasibility studies in 2009. However, the work is put on hold since 2009.

The PAEC in 1970 began work on a pilot-scale plant at Dera Ghazi Khan for the concentration of uranium ores. The plant had a capacity of 10,000 pounds a day.[21] In 1989, Munir Ahmad Khan signed a Nuclear cooperation deal and, since 2000, Pakistan is developing two more nuclear power plants with the an agreement signed with China. Both these plants are of 300MW capacity and are being built at Chashma city of Punjab Province called CHASNUPP-I, began producing electricity in 2000, and CHASNUPP-II, began its operation in fall of 2011. In 2011, the Board of Governors of International Atomic Energy Agency gave approval of Sino-Pak Nuclear Deal, allowing Pakistan legally to build 300MWe CHASNUPP-III and CHASNUPP-VI reactors.[22]

Development of nuclear weapons

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 led to Pakistan losing roughly 56,000 square miles (150,000 km2) of territory as well as losing millions of its citizens to the newly created state of Bangladesh.[23] It was a psychological setback for Pakistanis; Pakistan had lost its geopolitical, strategic, and economic influence in South-Asia.[23] Furthermore, Pakistan had failed to gather any moral support from its key allies, the United States and the People's Republic of China.[24] The 1971 war with India was a crushing defeat for Pakistan, and China failed to provide any significant assistance to Pakistan.[25] Isolated internationally, Pakistan seemed to be in great mortal danger, and quite obviously could rely on no one but itself.[24] At United Nations Security Council meeting, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto drew comparisons with the Treaty of Versailles which Germany was forced to sign in 1919. There, Bhutto vowed never to allow a repeat. Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was "obsessed" with India's nuclear program,[26] that is why Bhutto immediately came up with the idea of obtaining nuclear weapons to prevent Pakistan from signing another 'Treaty of Versailles' as it did in 1971.

In 1969, after a long negotiation, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) signed a formal agreement to supply Pakistan with a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant capable of extracting 360 g of weapons-grade plutonium annually.[15] The PAEC selected a team five senior scientists, including geophysicist dr. Ahsan Mubarak,[15] were sent to Sellafield to receive technical training.[15] Later, the team under Ahsan Mubarak advised the government not to acquire the whole reprocessing plant, but key parts important to build the weapons, while the plant would be built indigenously.[15]

At the Multan meeting on January 20, 1972, Bhutto stated, "What Raziuddin Siddiqui, a Pakistani, contributed for the United States during the Manhattan Project, could also be done by scientists in Pakistan, for their own people."[27] Raziuddin Siddiqui was a Pakistani theoretical physicist who, in the early 1940s, worked on both the British nuclear program and the US nuclear program.[28] Although a few Pakistanis worked on the Manhattan Project who were also willing to return and do the same for their native Pakistan, Prime Minister Bhutto still needed to recruit and bring in other Pakistani nuclear scientists and engineers who never worked in the United States. This is where Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a German-educated metallurgical engineer, came into the picture. Some of the initial funding came from oil-rich Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia.

In later years, some funding for the continuation of the nuclear development programme came from the large British Pakistani population. In December 1972, the Science Advisor to the President, Dr. Abdus Salam, had called theoretical physicists from the ICTP to report of Munir Ahmad Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. This marked the beginning of the "Theoretical Physics Group" (TPG).[29] Later, Pakistani theoretical physicists at Institute of Theoretical Physics of Quaid-e-Azam University also joined the TPG headed by Salam.[30] The TPG, which directly reported to Abdus Salam in PAEC, was assigned to do research in the development of nuclear weapon devices, and conduct mathematical calculations on complex hydrodynamical phenomenons and the fast neutron calculations.[30] Professor Salam also had done the groundbreaking work of the "Theoretical Physics Group", which was initially headed by Salam until in 1974 when he left the country in protest.[30] The TPG division at PAEC closely collaborated and completed its physics and mathematical calculations on fast-neutron calculations with the Mathematics Group led by Raziuddin Siddiqui and others, a division which contained the pure mathematicians.[30] On other side, Munir Ahmad Khan began to work on indigenous development of nuclear fuel cycle and the weapons programme. Munir Ahmad Khan, with his lifelong friend Abdus Salam, had done a groundbreaking work in the nuclear development, and after Salam's departure from Pakistan, scientists and engineers who were researching under Salam, began to report to directly to Munir Ahmad Khan.[31] In 1974, Munir Ahmad Khan, days after Operation Smiling Buddha, launched the extensive plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment programme, and the research facilities were expanded throughout the country.[32]

In 1965,[33] amidst skirmishes that led up to the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced:

If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?[34][35]

In 1983, Khan was convicted in absentia by the Court of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for stealing the blueprints, though the conviction was overturned on a legal technicality.[36] A. Q. Khan then established a proliferation network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO nuclear technology to Khan Research Laboratories. He then established Pakistan's gas-centrifuge program based on the URENCO's Zippe-type centrifuge.[36][37][38][39][40]

Through the late 1970s, Pakistan's program acquired sensitive uranium enrichment technology and expertise. The 1975 arrival of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan considerably advanced these efforts. Dr. Khan was a German-trained metallurgist who brought with him knowledge of gas centrifuge technologies that he had acquired through his position at the classified URENCO uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands. He was put in charge of building, equipping and operating Pakistan's Kahuta facility, which was established in 1976. Under Khan's direction, Pakistan employed an extensive clandestine network in order to obtain the necessary materials and technology for its developing uranium enrichment capabilities.[41]

It took only two weeks and three days for Pakistan to master the field... and (detonate) the nuclear devices of our own...

—Benazir Bhutto, on first nuclear tests on May 1998, [42]

A new directorate, known as Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) under Dr. Zaman Sheikh and Hafeez Qureshi, was established in March 1974 by Munir Ahmad Khan. The DTD was tasked to manufacture chemical explosive lenses, trigger mechanism, and tampers used in atomic weapon. The DTD was later charged with testing Pakistan's first implosion design in 1978, which was later improved and tested on 11 March 1983 when PAEC carried out Pakistan's first successful cold test of a nuclear device, codename Kirana-I. Between 1983 and 1990, PAEC carried out 24 more cold tests of various nuclear weapon designs. DTD had also manufactured a miniaturized weapon design by 1987 that could be delivered by all Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft.[43]

Dr. Ishrat Hussain Usmani’s contribution to the nuclear energy programme is also fundamental to the development of atomic energy for civilian purposes as he, with efforts led by Salam, established PINSTECH, that subsequently developed into Pakistan's premier nuclear research institution.[30] In addition to sending hundreds of young Pakistanis abroad for training, he laid the foundations of the Muslim world's first nuclear power reactor KANUPP, which was inaugurated by Munir Ahmad Khan in 1972. Thus, Usmani laid solid groundwork for the civilian nuclear programme.[citation needed] Scientists and engineers under Munir Ahmad Khan developed the nuclear capability for Pakistan within the early 1980s, and under his leadership the PAEC had carried a cold test of nuclear device at Kirana Hills, evidently made from non-weaponized plutonium. The former chairman of the PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan, was credited as one of the pioneers of Pakistan's atomic bomb by a study from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London's dossier on Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.[10]


Pakistan acceded to the Geneva Protocol on 15 April 1960. As for its Biological warfare capability, Pakistan is not widely suspected of either producing biological weapons or having an offensive biological programme.[44] However, the country is reported to have well developed bio-technological facilities and laboratories, devoted entirely to the medical research and applied health sciences.[44] In 1972, Pakistan signed and ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1974.[44] Since then Pakistan has been a vocal and staunch supporter for the success of the BTWC. During the various BTWC Review Conferences, Pakistan's representatives have urged more robust participation from state signatories, invited new states to join the treaty, and, as part of the non-aligned group of countries, have made the case for guarantees for states' rights to engage in peaceful exchanges of biological and toxin materials for purposes of scientific research.[44]

Pakistan is not known to have an offensive chemical weapons programme, and in 1993 Pakistan signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and has committed itself to refrain from developing, manufacturing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.[45]

In 1999, Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India signed the Lahore Declaration, agreeing to a bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. This initiative was taken after an year past of both countries publicly tested nuclear devices (See Pokhran-II, Chagai-I and II). However, Pakistan is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) and, consequently, not bound by any of its provisions.

Since early 1980s, Pakistan's nuclear proliferation activities have not been without controversy. However, since the arrest of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Government has taken concrete steps to ensure that Nuclear proliferation is not repeated and have assured the IAEA about the transparency of Pakistan's upcoming Chashma Nuclear Power Complex series of Nuclear Power Plants. In November 2006, The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors approved an agreement with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to apply safeguards to new nuclear power plants to be built in the country with Chinese assistance.[46]


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton informed that Pakistan has dispersed its nuclear weapons throughout the country, increasing the security so that they could not fall into terrorist hands. Her comments came as new satellite images released by the ISIS suggested Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium, a fuel for atomic bombs. The institute has also claimed that Pakistan has built two more nuclear reactors at Khoshab increasing the number of plutonium producing reactors to three.[citation needed]

In May 2009, during the anniversary of Pakistan's first nuclear weapons test, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif claimed that Pakistan's nuclear security is the strongest in the world.[47] According to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's nuclear safety program and nuclear security program is the strongest program in the world and there is no such capability in any other country for radical elements to steal or possess nuclear weapons.[48]

Modernisation and expansion

Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium at its Khushab nuclear facility, a Washington-based science think tank has reported.[49] The sixth nuclear test (codename: Chagai-II) on May 30, 1998, at Kharan was a quiet successful test of a sophisticated, compact, but "powerful plutonium bomb" designed to be carried by aircraft, vessels, and missiles. The Pakistanis are believed to be spiking their plutonium based nuclear weapons with tritium. Only a few grams of tritium can result in an increase of the explosive yield by 300% to 400%."[50] Citing new satellite images of the facility, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the imagery suggests construction of the second Khushab reactor is "likely finished and that the roof beams are being placed on top of the third Khushab reactor hall".[51] A third and a fourth[52] reactor and ancillary buildings are observed to be under construction at the Khushab site.

In an opinion published in The Hindu, former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran wrote that Pakistan's expanding nuclear capability is "no longer driven solely by its oft-cited fears of India" but by the "paranoia about U.S. attacks on its strategic assets.[53][54] Noting recent changes in Pakistan's nuclear doctrine, Saran said "the Pakistan military and civilian elite is convinced that the United States has also become a dangerous adversary, which seeks to disable, disarm or take forcible possession of Pakistan's nuclear arsenals and its status as nuclear power."[54]

Bilateral arms control proposals and confidence building measures

Pakistan has over the years proposed a number of bilateral or regional non-proliferation steps to India, including:[55]

  • A joint Indo-Pakistan declaration renouncing the acquisition or manufacture of nuclear weapons, in 1978.[56]
  • South Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, in 1978.[57]
  • Mutual inspections by India and Pakistan of each other's nuclear facilities, in 1979.[58]
  • Simultaneous adherence to the NPT by India and Pakistan, in 1979.[59]
  • A bilateral or regional nuclear test-ban treaty, in 1987.[60]
  • A South Asia Zero-Missile Zone, in 1994.[61]

India rejected all six proposals.[62][63]

However, India and Pakistan reached three bilateral agreements on nuclear issues. In 1989, they agreed not to attack each other's nuclear facilities.[64] Since then they have been regularly exchanging lists of nuclear facilities on January 1 of each year.[65] Another bilateral agreement was signed in March 2005 where both nations would alert the other on ballistic missile tests.[66] In June 2004, the two countries signed an agreement to set up and maintain a hotline to warn each other of any accident that could be mistaken for a nuclear attack. These were deemed essential risk reduction measures in view of the seemingly unending state of misgiving and tension between the two countries, and the extremely short response time available to them to any perceived attack. None of these agreements limits the nuclear weapons programs of either country in any way.[67]

Disarmament policy

Pakistan has blocked negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty as it continues to produce fissile material for weapons.[68][69]

In a recent statement at the Conference on Disarmament, Pakistan laid out its nuclear disarmament policy and what it sees as the proper goals and requirements for meaningful negotiations:

  • A commitment by all states to complete verifiable nuclear disarmament;
  • Eliminate the discrimination in the current non-proliferation regime;
  • Normalize the relationship of the three ex-NPT nuclear weapon states with those who are NPT signatories;
  • Address new issues like access to weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors;
  • Non-discriminatory rules ensuring every state's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
  • Universal, non-discriminatory and legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states;
  • A need to address the issue of missiles, including development and deployment of Anti-ballistic missile systems;
  • Strengthen existing international instruments to prevent the militarization of outer space, including development of ASATs;
  • Tackle the growth in armed forces and the accumulation and sophistication of conventional tactical weapons.
  • Revitalise the UN disarmament machinery to address international security, disarmament and proliferation challenges.[citation needed]

Pakistan has repeatedly stressed at international forums like the Conference on Disarmament that it will give up its nuclear weapons only when other nuclear armed states do so, and when disarmament is universal and verifiable. It rejects any unilateral disarmament on its part.[70]


Uranium infrastructure

Pakistan's uranium infrastructure is based on the use of gas centrifuges to produce Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) at Kahuta.[4] Responding to India's nuclear test In 1974, Munir Khan launched the uranium program, codename Project-706 under the aegis of the PAEC. The uranium division at PAEC undertook research on several methods of enrichment, including gaseous diffusion, jet nozzle and laser enrichment techniques, as well as centrifuges.[71] Abdul Qadeer Khan officially joined this program in 1976, bringing with him centrifuge designs he mastered in URENCO, the Dutch firm where he had worked as a senior scientist. Later, the government separated the program from PAEC and moved the program to Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL), with A.Q. Khan as its senior scientist. To acquire the necessary equipment and material for this program, Khan developed an illicit procurement network, which was later used to provide enrichment technology to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.[72] The Uranium program proved to be a difficult, challenging and most enduring approach.[73] Commenting on the difficulty, one mathematician who worked with A.Q. Khan quoted in the book "Eating grass" that "hydrodynamical problem in centrifuge was simply stated, but extremely difficult to evaluate, not only in order of magnitude but in detailing also."[73] Many of Khan's fellow theorists were unsure about the feasibility of the enriched uranium on time despite A.Q. Khan's strong advocacy.[73] One scientist recalled his memories in Eating Grass: "No one in the world has used the [gas] centrifuge method to produce military-grade uranium.... This was not going to work. He [A.Q. Khan] was simply wasting time."[73] Despite A.Q. Khan had difficulty getting his peers listening to him, Khan aggressively continued his research and the program was made feasible by Pakistan in shortest time possible.[73] His efforts won him the praise from country's elite politicians and the military science circles, and he was now debuted as the "father of the uranium" bomb.[73] On May 28, 1998, it was the KRL's HEU that ultimately created the nuclear chain reaction which led the successful detonated of boosted fission devices in an scientific experiment codenamed as: Chagai-I.[73]

Plutonium infrastructure

File:Pakistan Nuclear Test.jpg

The televised screen-shot of Chagai-I on 28 May 1998.

As opposed to uranium, the parallel plutonium programme is indigenous, locally developed and culminated under the scientific directorship of PAEC Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan.[11] Since 1972, earlier efforts were directed towards plutonium and necessary infrastructure was built by Bhutto as early as 1970s.[11] Contrary to popular perception, Pakistan did not forego or abandon the plutonium program and pursued it along with the uranium route.[11] Despite many setbacks and international embargo, PAEC continued its research on plutonium and created a separated electromagnetic isotope separation program alongside the enrichment program, under Dr. G D Allam, a theoretical physicist.[11]

Towards the end of 1970s, the PAEC began to pursue Plutonium production capabilities. Consequently, Pakistan built the 40-50 MW (megawatt, thermal) Khushab Reactor Complex at Joharabad, and in April 1998, Pakistan announced that the nuclear reactor was operational. The Khushab reactor project was initiated in 1986 by PAEC Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan, who informed the world that the reactor was totally indigenous, i.e. that it was designed and built by Pakistani scientists and engineers. Various Pakistani industries contributed in 82% of the reactor's construction. The Project-Director for this project was Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood. According to public statements made by the U.S. Government officials, this heavy-water reactor can produce up to 8 to 10 kg of plutonium per year with increase in the production by the development of newer facilities,[74] sufficient for at least one nuclear weapon.[75] The reactor could also produce H3 if it were loaded with Li6, although this is unnecessary for the purposes of nuclear weapons, because modern nuclear weapon designs use 6Li directly. According to J. Cirincione of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Khushab's Plutonium production capacity has allowed Pakistan to develop lighter nuclear warheads that would be easier to deliver to any place in the range of the ballistic missiles.[citation needed]

The Plutonium electromagnetic separation takes place at the New Laboratories, a reprocessing plant, which was completed by 1981 by PAEC and is next to the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) near Islamabad, which is not subject to IAEA inspections and safeguards.

In late 2006, the Institute for Science and International Security released intelligence reports and imagery showing the construction of a new plutonium reactor at the Khushab nuclear site. The reactor is deemed to be large enough to produce enough plutonium to facilitate the creation of as many as "40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year."[76][77][78] The New York Times carried the story with the insight that this would be Pakistan's third plutonium reactor,[79] signaling a shift to dual-stream development, with Plutonium-based devices supplementing the nation's existing HEU stream to atomic warheads. On 30 May 1998, Pakistan proved its plutonium capability in a scientific experiment and sixth nuclear test: codename Chagai-II.[73]


Pakistani Missiles on display at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

File:4 Babar Curise Missiles on a Truck at IDEAS 2008.jpg

A truck-mounted launch system (TEL) armed with 4 Babur cruise missiles on display at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

Truck-mounted Missiles on display at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

Estimates of Pakistan's stockpile of nuclear warheads vary. The most recent analysis, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2010, estimates that Pakistan has 70-90 nuclear warheads.[80] In 2001, the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimated that Pakistan had built 24–48 HEU-based nuclear warheads with HEU reserves for 30-52 additional warheads.[81][82] In 2003, the U.S. Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict estimated that Pakistan possessed between 35 and 95 nuclear warheads, with a median of 60.[83] In 2003, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace estimated a stockpile of approximately 50 weapons. By contrast, in 2000, U.S. military and intelligence sources estimated that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal may be as large as 100 warheads.[84]

The actual size of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile is hard for experts to gauge owing to the extreme secrecy which surrounds the program in Pakistan. However, in 2007, retired Pakistan Army's Brigadier-General Feroz Khan, previously second in command at the Strategic Arms Division of Pakistans' Military told a Pakistani newspaper that Pakistan had "about 80 to 120 genuine warheads."[85][86]

Pakistan tested plutonium capability in the sixth nuclear test, codename Chagai-II, on 30 May 1998 at Kharan Desert.

The critical mass of a bare mass sphere of 90% enriched uranium-235 is 52 kg. Correspondingly, the critical mass of a bare mass sphere of plutonium-239 is 8–10 kg. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima used 60 kg of U-235 while the Nagasaki Pu bomb used only 6 kg of Pu-239. Since all Pakistani bomb designs are implosion-type weapons, they will typically use between 15–25 kg of U-235 for their cores. Reducing the amount of U-235 in cores from 60 kg in gun-type devices to 25 kg in implosion devices is only possible by using good neutron reflector/tamper material such as beryllium metal, which increases the weight of the bomb. And the uranium, like plutonium, is only usable in the core of a bomb in metallic form.

However, only 2–4 kg of plutonium is needed for the same device that would need 20–25 kg of U-235. Additionally, a few grams of tritium (a by-product of plutonium production reactors and thermonuclear fuel) can increase the overall yield of the bombs by a factor of three to four. “The sixth Pakistan nuclear test, codename Chagai-II, (May 30, 1998) at Kharan Desert was a successful test of a sophisticated, compact, but powerful bomb designed to be carried by missiles. A whole range and variety of weapons using Pu-239 can be easily built, both for aircraft delivery and especially for missiles (in which U-235 cannot be used). So if Pakistan wants to be a nuclear power with an operational weapon capability, both first and second strike, based on assured strike platforms like ballistic and cruise missiles (unlike aircraft), the only solution is with plutonium, which has been the first choice of every country that built a nuclear arsenal.

As for Pakistan's plutonium capability, it has always been there, from the early 1970s onwards. However, there were only two logistic problems faced by PAEC. One was that Pakistan did not want to be an irresponsible state and the PAEC did not divert spent fuel from the safeguarded KANUPP for reprocessing at the New Labs. This was enough to build a whole arsenal of nuclear weapons straight away. The PAEC built its own plutonium and tritium production reactor at Khushab, known as Khushab-I reactor, beginning in 1985. The second one was allocation of resources.

Ultra-centrifugation for obtaining U-235 cannot be done simply by putting natural uranium through the centrifuges. It requires the complete mastery over the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, beginning at uranium mining and refining, production of uranium ore or yellow cake, conversion of ore into uranium dioxide (UO
) (which is used to make nuclear fuel for natural uranium reactors like Khushab and KANUPP), conversion of UO2 into uranium tetrafluoride (UF
) and then into the feedstock for enrichment (UF

The complete mastery of fluorine chemistry and production of highly toxic and corrosive hydrofluoric acid and other fluorine compounds is required. The UF6 is pumped into the centrifuges for enrichment. The process is then repeated in reverse until UF4 is produced, leading to the production of uranium metal, the form in which U-235 is used in a bomb.

It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000-20,000 centrifuges in Kahuta. This means that with P2 machines, they would be producing between 75–100 kg of HEU since 1986, when full production of weapons-grade HEU began. Also the production of HEU was voluntarily capped by Pakistan between 1991 and 1997, and the five nuclear tests of 28 May 1998 also consumed HEU. So it is safe to assume that between 1986 and 2005 (prior to the 2005 earthquake), KRL produced 1500 kg of HEU. Accounting for losses in the production of weapons, it can be assumed that each weapon would need 20 kg of HEU; sufficient for 75 bombs as in 2005.

Pakistan's first nuclear tests were made in May 1998, when six warheads were tested under codename Chagai-I and Chagai-II. It is reported that the yields from these tests were 12 kt, 30 to 36 kt and four low-yield (below 1 kt) tests. From these tests Pakistan can be estimated to have developed operational warheads of 20 to 25 kt and 150 kt in the shape of low weight compact designs and may have 300–500 kt[87] large-size warheads. The low-yield weapons are probably in nuclear bombs carried on fighter-bombers such as the Dassault Mirage III and fitted to Pakistan's short-range ballistic missiles, while the higher-yield warheads are probably fitted to the Shaheen series and Ghauri series ballistic missiles.[87]

Second strike capability

According to a U.S. congressional report, Pakistan has addressed issues of survivability in a possible nuclear conflict through second strike capability. Pakistan has been dealing with efforts to develop new weapons and at the same time, have a strategy for surviving a nuclear war. Pakistan has built hard and deeply buried storage and launch facilities to retain a second strike capability in a nuclear war.[88] In January 2000, two years past after the atomic tests, U.S. intelligence officials stated that previous intelligence estimates "overstated the capabilities of India's homegrown arsenal and understate those of Pakistan".[89] The United States Central Command commander, General Anthony Zinni, a friend of Musharraf,[89] told the NBC that longtime assumptions, that "India had an edge in the South Asian strategic balance of power, were questionable at best. Don't assume that the Pakistan's nuclear capability is inferior to the Indians", General Zinni quoted to NBC.[89]

It was confirmed that Pakistan has built Soviet-style road-mobile missiles, state-of-the-art air defences around strategic sites, and other concealment measures. In 1998, Pakistan had 'at least six secret locations' and since then it is believed Pakistan may have many more such secret sites. In 2008, the United States admitted that it did not know where all of Pakistan's nuclear sites are located. Pakistani defence officials have continued to rebuff and deflect American requests for more details about the location and security of the country's nuclear sites.[90]

MIRV capability

Pakistani engineers are also said to be in the advance stages of developing MIRV technology for its missiles. This would allow the military to fit several warheads on the same ballistic missile and then launch them at separate targets.[91]


In 2010, Russian foreign ministry official Yuriy Korolev stated that there are somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000 people directly involved in Pakistan's nuclear and missile programs, a figure considered extremely large for a developing country.[92]

Foreign assistance

Historically, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has been repeatedly charged with allegedly transferring missile and related materials to Pakistan.[93] Despite China strongly dismissing the charges and accusations, the United States alleged China to have played a major role in the establishment of Pakistan's atomic bomb development infrastructure.[93] China has consistently maintained that it has not sold any weapon parts or components to Pakistan or anyone else.[93] On August 2001, it was reported that US officials confronted China numerous times over this issue and pointed out "rather bluntly"[93] to Chinese officials that the evidences from intelligence sources was "powerful."[93] But they had been rebuffed by the Chinese, who have retorted by referring to the U.S. support for Taiwan's military build-up which Beijing says is directed against it.[93]

The former U.S. officials have also disclosed that China had allegedly transferred technology to Pakistan and conducting putative test for it in 1980.[94] However, senior scientists and officials strongly dismissed the U.S. disclosure, and in 1998 interview given to Kamran Khan, Abdul Qadeer Khan maintained to the fact that, "due to its sensitivity, no country allows another country to use their tests site to explode the devices," although the UK conducted such tests in Australia and the United States.[3] His statement was also traced by Samar Mubarakmand who acknowledged that cold tests were carried out, under codename Kirana-I, in a test site which was built by the Corps of Engineers under the guidance of the PAEC.[3][95] According to a 2001 Department of Defense report, China has supplied Pakistan with nuclear materials and has provided critical technical assistance in the construction of Pakistan's nuclear weapons development facilities, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which China is a signatory.[96][97] In 2001 visit to India, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Li Peng rejected all the accusations against China to Indian media and strongly maintained on the ground that "his country was not giving any nuclear arms to Pakistan nor transferring related-technology to it."[98] Talking to a media correspondents and Indian parliamentarians, Li Peng frankly quoted: "We do not help Pakistan in its atomic bomb projects. Pakistan is a friendly country with whom we have good economic and political relations."[98]

In 1986, it was reported that both countries have signed a mutual treaty of peaceful use of civil nuclear technology agreement in which China would supply Pakistan a civil-purpose nuclear power plant. A grand ceremony was held in Beijing where Pakistan's then-Foreign Minister Yakub Khan signed on behalf of Pakistan in the presence of PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad Khan and Chinese Prime Minister. Therefore, in 1989, Pakistan reached agreement with China for the supply of a 300MW commercial CHASHNUPP-1 nuclear power plant.

In February, 1990, President François Mitterrand of France visited Pakistan and announced that France had agreed to supply a 900 MWe commercial nuclear power plant to Pakistan. However, after the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was dismissed in August, 1990, the French nuclear power plant deal went into cold storage and the agreement could not be implemented due to financial constraints and the Pakistani government's apathy. Also in February 1990, Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, V.P. Yakunin, said that the USSR was considering a request from Pakistan for the supply of a nuclear power plant. The Soviet and French civilian nuclear power plant was on its way during 1990s. However, Bob Oakley, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, expressed U.S. displeasure at the recent agreement made between France and Pakistan for the sale of a nuclear power plant.[99] After the U.S. concerns the civilian-nuclear technology agreements were cancelled by France and Soviet Union.

Declassified documents from 1982, released in 2012 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, said that U.S. intelligence detected that Pakistan was seeking suspicious procurements from Belgium, Finland, Japan, Sweden and Turkey.[100]

In November 2013, a variety of sources told BBC Newsnight that Saudi Arabia had invested in the Pakistani nuclear weapons projects and believes it could obtain nuclear bombs from Pakistan at will. Earlier in the year, a senior NATO decision maker told Mark Urban, a senior diplomatic and defense editor, that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. In October 2013, Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring." Gary Samore, until March 2013 was President Barack Obama's counter-proliferation adviser, told BBC Newsnight: "I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan."[101]


Pakistan refuses to adopt a "no-first-use" doctrine, indicating that it would strike India with nuclear weapons even if India did not use such weapons first. Pakistan's asymmetric nuclear posture has significant influence on India's decision ability to retaliate, as shown in 2001 and 2008 crises, when non-state actors carried out deadly attacks on Indian soil, only to be met with a relatively subdued response from India. A military spokersperson stated that "Pakistan's threat of nuclear first-use deterred India from seriously considering conventional military strikes."[102] India is Pakistan's primary geographic neighbor and primary strategic competitor, helping drive Pakistan's conventional warfare capability and nuclear weapons development: The two countries share an 1800-mile border and have suffered a violent history—four wars in less than seven decades. The past three decades have seen India's economy eclipse that of Pakistan's, allowing the former to outpace the latter in defense expenditure at a decreasing share of GDP. In comparison to population, India is more powerful than Pakistan by almost every metric of military, economic, and political power—and the gap continues to grow," a Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs report claims.[103]

Theory of deterrence

The theory of "N-deterrence" has been frequently being interpreted by the various government-in-time of effect of Pakistan. Although the nuclear deterrence theory was officially adopted in 1998 as part of Pakistan's defence theory,[104] on the other hand, the theory has had been interpreted by the government since in 1972. The relative weakness in defense warfare is highlighted in Pakistan's nuclear posture, which Pakistan considers its primary deterrent from Indian conventional offensives or nuclear attack. Nuclear theorist Brigadier-General Feroz Hassan Khan adds: "The Pakistani situation is akin to NATO's position in the Cold War. There are geographic gaps and corridors similar to those that existed in Europe ... that are vulnerable to exploitation by mechanized Indian forces ... With its relatively smaller conventional force, and lacking adequate technical means, especially in early warning and surveillance, Pakistan relies on a more proactive nuclear defensive policy."[105]

Indian political scientist Vipin Narang, however, argues that Pakistan's asymmetric escalation posture, or the rapid first use of nuclear weapons against conventional attacks to deter their outbreak, increases instability in South Asia. Narang supports his arguments by noting to the fact that since India's assured retaliation nuclear posture has not deterred these provocations, Pakistan's passive nuclear posture has neutralized India's conventional options for now; limited retaliation would be militarily futile, and more significant conventional retaliation is simply off the table."[102]

The strategists in Pakistan Armed Forces has ceded nuclear assets and a degree of nuclear launch code authority to lower-level officers to ensure weapon usability in a "fog of war" scenario, making credible its deterrence doctrine.[102] On further military perspective, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), has retrospectively contended that "theory of defense is not view to enter into a "nuclear race", but to follow a policy of "peaceful co-existence" in the region, it cannot remain oblivious to the developments in South Asia."[106] The Pakistan Government officials and strategists have consistently emphasized that nuclear deterrence is intended by maintaining a balance to safeguard its sovereignty and ensure peace in the region.[107]

Pakistan's motive for pursuing a nuclear weapons development program is never to allow another invasion of Pakistan.[108] President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq allegedly told the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 that, "If your forces cross our borders by an inch, we are going to annihilate your cities."[109]

Pakistan has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). According to the United States Department of Defense report cited above, "Pakistan remains steadfast in its refusal to sign the NPT, stating that it would do so only after India joined the Treaty. Pakistan has responded to the report by stating that the United States itself has not ratified the CTBT. Consequently, not all of Pakistan's nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards. Pakistani officials have stated that signature of the CTBT is in Pakistan's best interest, but that Pakistan will do so only after developing a domestic consensus on the issue, and have disavowed any connection with India's decision."

The Congressional Research Service, in a report published on July 23, 2012, said that in addition to expanding its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan could broaden the circumstances under which it would be willing to use nuclear weapons.[110]

Nuclear Command and Control

The government institutional organization authorized to make critical decisions about Pakistan's nuclear posturing is the NCA.[111] The NCA has its genesis since 1970s[111] and has been constitutionally established in February 2000.[111] The NCA is composed of two civic-military committees that advises and console both Prime minister and the President of Pakistan, on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons; it is also responsible for war-time command and control. In 2001, Pakistan further consolidated its nuclear weapons infrastructure by placing the Khan Research Laboratories and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under the control of one Nuclear Defense Complex. In November 2009, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari announced that he will be replaced by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as the chairman of NCA.[112] The NCA consists of the Employment Control Committee (ECC) and the Development Control Committee (DCC), both now chaired by the Prime Minister.[113] The Foreign minister and Economic Minister serves as a deputy chairmen of the ECC, the body which defines nuclear strategy, including the deployment and employment of strategic forces, and would advise the prime minister on nuclear use. The committee includes key senior cabinet ministers as well as the respective military chiefs of staff.[113] The ECC reviews presentations on strategic threat perceptions, monitors the progress of weapons development, and decides on responses to emerging threats.[113] It also establishes guidelines for effective command-and-control practices to safeguard against the accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons.[113]

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is the deputy chairman of the Development Control Committee (DCC), the body responsible for weapons development and oversight which includes the nation's military and scientific, but not its political, leadership.[113] Through DCC, the senior civilian scientists maintains a tight control of scientific and ethical research; the DCC exercises technical, financial and administrative control over all strategic organisations, including national laboratories and scientific research and development organisations associated with the development and modernisation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.[113] Functioning through the SPD, the DCC oversees the systematic progress of weapon systems to fulfil the force goals set by the committee.[113]

Under the Nuclear Command Authority, its secretariat, Strategic Plans Division (SPD), is responsible for the physical protection and to ensure security of all aspects of country's nuclear arsenals.[114] The SPD functions under the joint chiefs of staff committee at the Joint Headquarters (JS HQ) and reports directly to the Prime Minister.[114] The comprehensive nuclear force planning is integrated with conventional war planning at the National Security Council (NSC).[114] According to the officials of Pakistan's military science circles, it is the high-profile civic-military committee consisting the Cabinet ministers, President, Prime minister and the four services chiefs, all of whom who reserves the right to order the deployment and the operational use of the nuclear weapons.[114] The final and executive political decisions on nuclear arsenals deployments, operational use, and nuclear weapons politics are made during the sessions of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which is chaired by the Prime minister.[115] It is this DCC Council where the final political guideles, discussions and the nuclear arsenals operational deployments are approved by the Prime minister.[115] The DCC reaffirmed its policies on development of nuclear energy and arsenals through the country's media.[115]

U.S. security assistance

From the end of 2001 the United States has provided material assistance to aid Pakistan in guarding its nuclear material, warheads and laboratories. The cost of the program has been almost $100 million. Specifically the USA has provided helicopters, night-vision goggles and nuclear detection equipment.[116]

In 2000, a “Liaison Committee” of top American and Pakistani scientists met to help Pakistan create secure command-and-control codes for its nuclear arsenal, which would prevent unauthorized users, including potential insider plots by members of the Pakistani military, from accessing weapons or facilities without the passwords. The program is buried in secret portions of the federal budget and designed by officials from the Departments of Energy and State. Its elements include modern physical security technologies. The United States furnished electronic monitoring and surveillance systems, intrusion detectors, and ID systems for Pakistani nuclear facilities; helicopters, night vision goggles, and nuclear detection technology; and physical security reinforcements such as fencing around nuclear facilities. The United States provided Pakistan with Permissive Action Links, or PALs—specialized combination security locks on nuclear weapons that prevent unauthorized detonations by terrorists or rogue leaders.

The United States also provided a model for a Personnel Reliability Program, an ongoing series of psychological and emotional fitness tests designed to screen nuclear scientists and monitor their trustworthiness, mental stability, and loyalty. The United States also trains Pakistani personnel on the command-and-control systems developed by the “Liaison Committee” in the United States, and provides funding for the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan.

Finally, high-level political consultations. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage pressured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to dismiss intelligence officials with suspected Taliban ties and redeploy warheads to more secure locations. And the “Strategic Program and Development Cell” has met every two to three months to review the security of Pakistan's arsenal as of February 2004. This probably refers to the Liaison Committee; participants reportedly include General Khalid Kidwai, the Pakistani military leader in charge of the arsenal, and representatives from the National Security Council, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Sandia National Laboratories, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the CIA.

During this period Pakistan also began to develop a modern export control regulatory regime with U.S. assistance. It supplements the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Megaports program at Port Qasim, Karachi, which deployed radiation monitors and imaging equipment monitored by a Pakistani central alarm station.[117]

Pakistan turned down the offer of Permissive Action Link (PAL) technology, a sophisticated "weapon release" program which initiates use via specific checks and balances, possibly because it feared the secret implanting of "dead switches". But Pakistan is since believed to have developed and implemented its own version of PAL and U.S. military officials have stated they believe Pakistan's nuclear arsenals to be well secured.[118][119]

Security concerns of the United States

Since 2004 the United States government has reportedly been concerned about the safety of Pakistani nuclear facilities and weapons. Press reports have suggested that the United States has contingency plans to send in special forces to help "secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal".[120][121] Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation giving testimony before the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade concluded that "preventing Pakistan's nuclear weapons and technology from falling into the hands of terrorists should be a top priority for the U.S."[122] However Pakistan's government has ridiculed claims that the weapons are not secure.[120]

A report published by The Times in early 2010 states that the U.S. is training an elite unit to recover Pakistani nuclear weapons or materials should they be seized by militants, possibly from within the Pakistani nuclear security organization. This was done in the context of growing Anti-Americanism in the Pakistani Armed Forces, multiple attacks on sensitive installations over the previous 2 years and rising tensions. According to former U.S. intelligence official Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, U.S. concerns are justified because militants have struck at several Pakistani military facilities and bases since 2007. According to this report, the United States does not know the locations of all Pakistani nuclear sites and has been denied access to most of them.[123] However, during a visit to Pakistan in January 2010, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates denied that the United States had plans to take over Pakistan's nuclear weapons.[124]

A study by Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University titled 'Securing the Bomb 2010', found that Pakistan's stockpile "faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth".[125]

According to Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former investigator with the CIA and the US department of energy there is "a greater possibility of a nuclear meltdown in Pakistan than anywhere else in the world. The region has more violent extremists than any other, the country is unstable, and its arsenal of nuclear weapons is expanding."[126]

Nuclear weapons expert David Albright author of 'Peddling Peril' has also expressed concerns that Pakistan's stockpile may not be secure despite assurances by both Pakistan and U.S. government. He stated Pakistan "has had many leaks from its program of classified information and sensitive nuclear equipment, and so you have to worry that it could be acquired in Pakistan,"[127]

A 2010 study by the Congressional Research Service titled 'Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues' noted that even though Pakistan had taken several steps to enhance Nuclear security in recent years 'Instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question.'[128]

In April 2011, IAEA's deputy director general Denis Flory declared Pakistan's nuclear programme safe and secure.[129][130] According to the IAEA, Pakistan is currently contributing more than $1.16 million in IAEA's Nuclear Security Fund, making Pakistan as 10th largest contributor.[131]

In response to a November 2011 article in The Atlantic written by Jeffrey Goldberg highlighting concerns about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, the Pakistani Government announced that it would train an additional 8,000 people to protect the country's nuclear arsenal. At the same time, the Pakistani Government also denounced the article. Training will be completed no later than 2013.[132]

Pakistan consistently maintains that it has tightened the security over the several years.[133] In 2010, the Chairman Joint Chiefs General Tariq Majid exhorted to the world delegation at the National Defence University that, "World must accept Pakistan as nuclear power."[133] While dismissing all the concerns on the safety of country's nuclear arsenal, General Majid maintains to the fact: "We are shouldering our responsibility with utmost vigilance and confidence. We have put in place a very robust regime that includes "multilayered mechanisms" and processes to secure our strategic assets, and have provided maximum transparency on our practices. We have reassured the international community on this issue over and over again and our track record since the time our atomic bomb programme was made overt has been unblemished".[133]

On 7 September 2013, the U.S. State Department said "Pakistan has a professional and dedicated security force that fully understands the importance of nuclear security." Pakistan had earlier rejected claims in U.S. media that the Obama Administration was worried about the safety of Pakistani nuclear weapons, saying the country has a professional and robust system to monitor it nukes.[134]

National Security Council

  • Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)
  • Development Control Committee (DCC)
  • Employment Control Committee (ECC)
  • Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU)

Strategic combat commands

Weapons development agencies

National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM)

  • National Development Complex (NDC), Islamabad
  • Project Management Organization (PMO), Khanpur
  • Air Weapon Complex (AWC), Hasanabdal
  • Maritime Technologies Complex (MTC), Karachi

Ministry of Defense Production

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)

  • Directorate of Technical Development
  • Directorate of Technical Equipment
  • Directorate of Technical Procurement
  • Directorate of Science & Engineering Services
  • Institute of Nuclear Power, Islamabad
  • Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology (PINSTECH)
  • New Laboratories, Rawalpindi
  • Pilot Reprocessing Plant
  • PARR-1 and PARR-2 Nuclear Research Reactors
  • Center for Nuclear Studies (CNS), Islamabad
  • Computer Training Center (CTC), Islamabad
  • Nuclear Track Detection Center (Solid State Nuclear Track Detection Center)
  • Khushab Reactor, Khushab
  • Atomic Energy Minerals Centre, Lahore
  • Hard Rock Division, Peshawar
  • Mineral Sands Program, Karachi
  • Baghalchur Uranium Mine, Baghalchur
  • Dera Ghazi Khan Uranium Mine, Dera Ghazi Khan
  • Issa Khel/Kubul Kel Uranium Mines and Mills, Mianwali
  • Multan Heavy Water Production Facility, Multan, Punjab
  • Uranium Conversion Facility, Islamabad
  • Golra Ultracentrifuge Plant, Golra
  • Sihala Ultracentrifuge Plant, Sihala
  • Directorate of Quality Assurance,Islamabad
  • New Labs Nilore,Islamabad

Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO)

  • Aerospace Institute, Islamabad.
  • Computer Center, Karachi.
  • Control System Laboratories.
  • Sonmian Satellite Launch Center, Sonmiani Beach.
  • Instrumentation Laboratories, Karachi.
  • Material Research Division.
  • Quality Control and Assurance Unit.
  • Rocket Bodies Manufacturing Unit.
  • Solid Composite Propellant Unit.
  • Liquid Composite Propellant Unit
  • Space and Atmospheric Research Center (space Center), Karachi
  • Static Test Unit, Karachi
  • Tilla Satellite Launch Center, Tilla, Punjab

Ministry of Industries & Production

  • State Engineering Corporation (SEC)
  • Heavy Mechanical Complex Ltd. (HMC)
  • Pakistan Steel Mills Limited, Karachi.

Delivery systems

Land systems

As of 2011, Pakistan possesses a wide variety of nuclear capable medium range ballistic missiles with ranges up to 2500 km.[135] Pakistan also possesses nuclear tipped Babur cruise missiles with ranges up to 700 km. In April 2012, Pakistan launched a Hatf-4 Shaheen-1A, said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead designed to evade missile-defense systems.[136] The Babur cruise missile range can also be extended to 1000 km or more. These land-based missiles are controlled by Army Strategic Forces Command of Pakistan Army.

Pakistan is also believed to be developing tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield with ranges up to 60 km such as the Nasr missile. According to Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-proliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, citing a Pakistani news article,[137] Pakistan is developing its own equivalent to the Davy Crockett launcher with miniaturized warhead that may be similar to the W54.[138]

Aerial systems

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is believed to have practiced "toss-bombing" in the 1980s and 1990s, a method of launching weapons from fighter-bombers which can also be used to deliver nuclear warheads.[citation needed] The PAF has two dedicated units (No. 16 Black Panthers and No. 26 Black Spiders) operating 18 aircraft in each squadron (36 aircraft total) of the JF-17 Thunder, believed to be the preferred vehicle for delivery of nuclear weapons.[139] These units are major part of the Air Force Strategic Command, a command responsible for nuclear response. The PAF also operates a fleet of F-16 fighters, of which 18 were delivered in 2012 and confirmed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. With a third squadron being raised, this would bring the total number of dedicated nuclear capable aircraft to a total of 54.[140] The PAF also possesses the Ra'ad air-launched cruise missile which has a range of 350 km and can carry a nuclear warhead with a yield of between 10kt to 35kt.[141]

It has also been reported that an air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) with a range of 350 km has been developed by Pakistan, designated Hatf 8 and named Ra'ad ALCM, which may theoretically be armed with a nuclear warhead. It was reported to have been test-fired by a Mirage III fighter and, according to one Western official, is believed to be capable of penetrating some air defence/missile defence systems.[142]

Naval systems

The Pakistan Navy was first publicly reported to be considering deployment of nuclear weapons on submarines in February 2001. Later in 2003 it was stated by Admiral Shahid Karimullah, then Chief of Naval Staff, that there were no plans for deploying nuclear weapons on submarines but if "forced to" they would be. In 2004, Pakistan Navy established the Naval Strategic Forces Command and made it responsible for countering and battling naval-based weapons of mass destruction. It is believed by most experts that Pakistan is developing a sea-based variant of the Hatf VII Babur, which is a nuclear-capable ground-launched cruise missile.[143] With a stockpile of plutonium, Pakistan would be able to produce a variety of miniature nuclear warheads which would allow it to nuclear-tip the C-802 and C-803 anti-ship missiles as well as being able to develop nuclear torpedoes, nuclear depth bombs and nuclear naval mines.[citation needed]

Future delivery systems

Nuclear submarine

In response to INS Arihant, India's first nuclear submarine, the Pakistan Navy pushed forward a proposal to build its own nuclear submarine as a direct response to the Indian nuclear submarine program.[144][145] Many military experts believe that Pakistan has the capability of building a nuclear submarine and is ready to build such a fleet.[144] Finally in February 2012, the Navy announced it would start work on the construction of a nuclear submarine to better meet the Indian Navy's nuclear threat.[146] According to the Navy, the nuclear submarine is an ambitious project, and will be designed and built indigenously. However, the Navy stressed that "the project completion and trials would take anywhere from between 5 to 8 years to build the nuclear submarine after which Pakistan would join the list of countries that has a nuclear submarine." [144][146]

See also


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  2. Samdani, Zafar (25 March 2000). "Pakistan can build hydrogen bomb: Scientist". Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Khan, Kamran (Saturday, May 30, 1998). "Interview with Abdul Qadeer Khan". Kamran Khan, director of the News Intelligence Unit of "The News International". Jang Media Group, Co.. Retrieved May 30, 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Pakistan Nuclear Weapons". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  5. Sublette, Carey (10 September 2001). "1998 Year of Testing". Nuclear Weapon Archives. Carey Sublette of the Nuclear Weapon Archives. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  6. Approximating and calculating the exact, accurate and precise yields are difficult to calculate. Even under very controlled conditions, precise yields can be very hard to determine, and for less controlled conditions the margins of error can be quite large. There are number of different ways that the yields can be determined, including calculations based on blast size, blast brightness, seismographic data, and the strength of the shock wave. The Pakistan Government authorities puts up the yield range from 20-~40kt (as noted by Carey Sublette of the Nuclear Weapon Archives in her report. The explosion measured 5.54 degrees on the Richter Scale, the PAEC provided the data as public domain in the KNET sources.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wall, Robert (2013-06-03). "China Nuclear Stockpile Grows as India Matches Pakistan Rise". Reuters. 
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Bibliography and literature
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  • Bhutto, ZA ((April 15, 1969)). The Myth of Independence. Berkley, CA, U.S.: Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0192151674. 

External links

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