Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL)

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
Facility Status: Operational

Kahuta Research Laboratories (KEL) 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).[1] 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.[2] After A.Q. Khan assumed control of ERL in July 1976, the laboratories were renamed Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in May 1981.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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. [6]

In July 2009, a suicide bomber attacked a bus transporting workers to KRL, highlighting international concerns regarding the security of Pakistan's nuclear facilities. [7]

Sources:
[1] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks, (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London, 2007).
[2] Jeffrey T. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), pp. 330-332.
[3] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks, (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London, 2007).
[4] Open Source Center, "Pakistan: Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Discusses Nuclear Program in TV Talk Show," 31 August 2009, accessed from www.fas.org.
[5] Mark Hibbs, "Pakistan developed more powerful centrifuges," Nuclear Fuels, 29 May 2007.
[6] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks, (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London, 2007).
[7] Salman Masood, "Attack in Pakistani Garrison City Raises Anxiety About Safety of Nuclear Labs and Staff," The New York Times, 5 July 2009.

CNS logo

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

Country Profile

Flag of Pakistan

Pakistan

This article provides an overview of Pakistan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →