Satellite imagery shows that 4th nuclear reactor is essentially in its early stages of construction and it will be similar in size to the 2nd and 3rd Khushab nuclear reactors at this site. First indication of the construction of 4th nuclear reactor at Khushab came from images ten by satellites on September 9, 2010 which showed clearing of the area for construction work.
Pakistan started the construction of first nuclear reactor at Khushab in 1986. Project was headed by the Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood a nuclear engineer of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). Khushab nuclear started its operations in April 1998.
Khushab nuclear reactor, more commonly known as K-I is a heavy water nuclear reactor which uses the natural uranium as its fuel is capable of operating at 50-70 MWth.
In 2006 ISIS was able to use Commercial satellite imagery to detect the structure of 2nd nuclear reactor at Khushab. At first ISIS estimated that 2nd nuclear reactor at Khushab is capable of operating in excess of 1,000 MWth which could allow Pakistan to produce around 200 kilograms of plutonium each year
But their estimates about the operating capacity of the 2nd Khushab nuclear reactor was heavily contended by the internal experts and US government which claimed that this new reactor will have the operating power of 50-100 MWt.
Commercial satellite imagery in December 2009 confirmed vapor rising from 2nd reactor’s cooling tower fan blades which indicate that 2nd Khushab nuclear reactor became operational in 2009.
Both these reactor now provide Pakistan with approximately 25 to 30 kg plutonium per year. These reactors are also used to produce tritium for the boosted nuclear warheads which weapons. Pakistan tested boosted fission warheads in 1998.
Boosting technique is used to increase the efficiency of fission warhead by using small quantity of (2-3 g) of tritium inside the fission core. This results in increased yield of the nuclear weapon by five to ten times.
Images taken by the Commercial satellites revealed that Pakistan is constructing 3rd nuclear reactor at Khushab for the production of plutonium. This reactor was similar in size and construction to the 2nd nuclear reactor and will be operational in next couple of years.
Next parts will focus on answering the following questions:
Why Pakistan needs these plutonium production reactors?
Why Pakistan is expanding its plutonium production facilities?
How Western media is intentionally manipulating information to blame Pakistan for the nuclear arms race?