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Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)

  • Location
    Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Type
  • Facility Status

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The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) owns and operates nuclear reactors in Pakistan and oversees a number of research institutes.

In March 1956, the Atomic Energy Council was established, consisting of a governing board and the PAEC. [1] While originally focused exclusively on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the PAEC was tasked by President Z.A. Bhutto in 1972 to produce a nuclear weapon within five years. [2] Later that year, PAEC Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan inaugurated Pakistan's first civilian nuclear power reactor, the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP). In the spring of 1976, a PAEC group surveyed the Chagai Hills region and selected a site at the Ras Koh mountain range for future nuclear testing. Those tests were conducted under the PAEC in May 1998. [3]

In February 2000, Pakistan's National Security Council established the National Command Authority (NCA) to make all major decisions regarding nuclear policy, procurement, planning and use. Following the establishment of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority and NCA's creation of the National Development Complex (NDC), the PAEC has reverted back to focusing on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. [4]

[1] Bhumitra Chakma, Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons (New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 10-11; Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, "History of PAEC," www.paec.gov.pk.
[2] Jeffrey T. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), pp. 328-330.
[3] John F. Burns, "Nuclear Anxiety: The Overview; Pakistan, Answering India, Carries Out Nuclear Tests; Clinton's Appeal Rejected," The New York Times, 29 May 1998.
[4] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks (International Institute for Strategic Studies: London, 2007).


Nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor: A vessel in which nuclear fission may be sustained and controlled in a chain nuclear reaction. The varieties are many, but all incorporate certain features, including: fissionable or fissile fuel; a moderating material (unless the reactor is operated on fast neutrons); a reflector to conserve escaping neutrons; provisions of removal of heat; measuring and controlling instruments; and protective devices.
Nuclear energy
Nuclear energy: The energy liberated by a nuclear reaction (fission or fusion), or by radioactive decay.
Nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon: A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as the result of nuclear chain reactions involving fission, or fission and fusion, of atomic nuclei. Such weapons are also sometimes referred to as atomic bombs (a fission-based weapon); or boosted fission weapons (a fission-based weapon deriving a slightly higher yield from a small fusion reaction); or hydrogen bombs/thermonuclear weapons (a weapon deriving a significant portion of its energy from fusion reactions).


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