Pakistani Plutonium Reactor Is Said to Get More Funding

Pakistan's new plutonium-production reactor, which is thought almost finished, is reported to get a funding boost under the country's draft budget.

Islamabad is expected in its fiscal 2014-2015 budget to ratchet up spending for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to above $81 million, compared to last year's final appropriation level of $66 million, Defense News reported on Monday.

Mansoor Ahmed, of the Quaid-e-Azam University's Defense and Strategic Studies Department, said in an interview that most of the atomic energy agency funding would go toward construction of two 1,000 megawatt nuclear power reactors, which are being built under safeguards with China at the Karachi complex.

However, "additional financial allocations are most likely earmarked for the unsafeguarded Khushab Nuclear Complex where the fourth plutonium-production heavy water reactor is reportedly nearing completion," Ahmed said.

Commercial satellite images taken last fall indicated that work on the exterior of the heavy water reactor was almost finished.

Ahmed said the ongoing work to expand the fissile material production capabilities of the Khushab site has been key to permitting Islamabad to revamp its nuclear arsenal.

"These and other classified projects are presumably aimed at the development of a new variety of lightweight, compact and more powerful and efficient weapon designs, suitable for a variety of ballistic and cruise missiles," he said.

Brian Cloughley, a former Australian defense attache to Pakistan, said the credibility of the reported budget figures seems "pretty good," though he noted that "it's still conjecture rather than hard fact."

May 20, 2014
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Pakistan's new plutonium-production reactor, which is thought almost finished, is reported to get a funding boost under the country's draft budget.

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