Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pakistan 'building reactor for 50 nukes'

Pakistan is reported to be building a nuclear reactor that could produce enough plutonium for up to 50 nuclear weapons a year.





Satellite photographs show what appears to be the construction site for a larger nuclear reactor next to Pakistan's only plutonium production reactor, according to an analysis by experts at the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

The new reactor would be a major expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and could intensify the arms race in South Asia, according to the assessment, initially reported by The Washington Post and posted on the instituter's website.

Analysts conclude that the diameter of the structure's metal shell suggests a very large reactor "operating in excess of 1,000 megawatts thermal," according to the report.

"Such a reactor could produce over 200kg of weapons-grade plutonium per year, assuming it operates at full power a modest 220 days per year," the technical assessment said.

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