Last Updated: December 13, 2013
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.

Sources:
[1] Global Fissile Material Report 2013, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2013, www.fissilematerials.org.
[2] Mark Hibbs, "Bhutto May Finish Plutonium Reactor without Agreement on Fissile Stocks," Nucleonics Week, 6 October 1994.
[3] "Analysis of IKONOS Imagery of the Plutonium Production Reactor at Khushab, Pakistan," Institute for Science and International Security, 16 March 2000, www.isis-online.org.
[4] David Albright and Robert Avagyan, "Construction Progressing Rapidly on the Fourth Heavy Water Reactor at the Khushab Nuclear Site," Institute for Science and International Security, 21 May 2012, http://isis-online.org.
[5] Tamara Patton, "Combining Satellite Imagery and 3D Drawing Tools for Nonproliferation Analysis: A Case Study of Pakistan's Khushab Plutonium Production Reactors," Science & Global Security, 16 October 2012, 117-140.
[6] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London, 2007).

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.