Skip to comments.Pak plutonium is an old Chinese story
Posted on 07/26/2006 8:17:02 AM PDT by Republicain
Pakistan's Khushab nuclear research complex is likely to come under intense international scrutiny following a report that included satellite imagery indicating construction of a 1000 MW heavy water reactor that could generate enough plutonium to produce 40 to 50 nuclear warheads per year.
This second reactor, that could begin operating in 5 years, would be in addition to the 50 MW reactor commissioned in 1988. It could substantially boost the number of plutonium-based weapons in the Pakistani arsenal that currently is predominantly comprised of enriched uranium based bombs.
The report will revive demands for speeding-up the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, raise the bogey of rising nuclear dangers in South Asia and will arm critics of the proposed US-India nuclear deal.
A few facts need to be kept in mind in assessing the nonproliferation and strategic implications of the new reactor.
* First, construction of this facility at Khushab began in 2000, well before the US-India deal was first proposed.
* Second, Pakistan's exploration of plutonium to produce weapons grade fissile material had been sanctioned under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the mid-1970s, and revived and expanded in the late 1980s under Zia ul Haq. But the problems in mastering this complex technology explain the delay in operating this second avenue to generate bomb grade fissile material.
* Third, these bombs weigh a lot less because the amount of plutonium required is only about a third of the amount of enriched uranium required to build a uranium based bomb.
They are more compact, making them easier to mount on the cone of a missile or aircraft for delivery. That is why Pakistan, whose missile programme has received substantial assistance from China and North Korea over the past 15 years, is pursuing these lighter bombs.
This will enhance Pakistan's strike options regarding India, especially when mounted on its solid-fuel based missiles which are more accurate and require less time to fuel and arm.
* Fourth, China's assistance to Pakistan's nuclear programme was revived again following Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to Islamabad in April 2004, including building 1 or 2 power plants at Chashma. This came in the wake of China joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group and was received with strong skepticism by other members. Chashma opened the way for an indeterminate amount of Chinese assistance, possibly extending to Khushab complex as well.
Continued Sino-Pakistani clo-seness is attested by the fact China is the only P-5 and NSG member that has backed Pakistan's quest for a deal similar to the US-India nuclear deal. China is also the only P-5 member to have not officially clarified whether it has stopped producing weapons grade fissile material.
China delayed FMCT talks at the Conference on Disarmament in 2001-03 by insisting progress on FMCT be linked to negotiating the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space treaty.
Finally, while Washington was well aware of the new construction at Khushab, it has refused to apply pressure on the Musharraf regime for fear of losing its support in prosecuting the war on terror in Afghanistan and beyond.
Pakistan's nuclear weapons build-up is independent of the US-India nuclear deal. Instead it should be pressed to stop using brinkmanship in its nuclear policy. India and Pakistan could look at technical confidence building measures to enhance crisis stability and reduce regional nuclear dangers.
(Author is at the Center for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia)
This is one example of why a united Chinese-Russian-Indian front against "US Hegemony" is not in India's best interest.
"Finally, while Washington was well aware of the new construction at Khushab, it has refused to apply pressure on the Musharraf regime for fear of losing its support in prosecuting the war on terror in Afghanistan and beyond."
And is pretty to hypocrtical to give India nuks, but telling Chinese not do the same thing with Paks. The nuk deal probably will not bring any benefit to US in the long term. India needs a good relationship with both China and US. However, giving nuks to India just undermine US credibility to tell other countries not to develop nuks.
Point taken that you can't stop China from selling nukes to Pakistan. But India and Pakistan are not the same. India didn't sell its technology everywhere from N. Korea to Libya, Pakistan did and through it, China. So I see no hypocrisy on the part of the Americans in selling to India and not Pakistan.
India's relationship with China is independent of its strategic relationship with the US. Just as the US trades with China, confers the MFN status on it and actually serves to strengthen the Chinese regime, so too will India trade with it. India has a lot more at stake in maintaining ties with the Chinese because they have missiles that can bomb the hell out of India. I don't see the same fear in the US about China. As someone elsesaid before, a Russia-China-India axis will never materialise because we know very well what such a tie with the Chinese is worth. They supply our enemies with everything and then they want to make friends with us...you think we're stupid? The relationship with China is a matter of convenience, economically. I don't see such a tie maturing into anything more in the near to medium term. The long term is too far away.
Nuk Nuk Nuk..
"So I see no hypocrisy on the part of the Americans in selling to India and not Pakistan."
Read my first post again. I am saying it will be hypocritical if US tell China not to sell nuks to other country, if they are give nuks to other countries like India. There are no underlieing rules saying who can own nuks are not.
"so too will India trade with it. India has a lot more at stake in maintaining ties with the Chinese because they have missiles that can bomb the hell out of India"
Yea, but not to burst your bubble. China does not weight India as a strategic competitor as US. To China, their best interest is to corporate with India. US relationship with India is also a matter of convenience too. The democracy thing is just more than a slogan.
"They supply our enemies with everything and then they want to make friends with us...you think we're stupid?"
US is also supplying Paki with everything. It is all about power, man. US and China are both playing the balance game. The only reason why US wants to get close to India is because China, nothing more. The democracy and freedom thing nothing, but prapaganda.