For Immediate Release: June 2, 1998
ISIS MEDIA ADVISORY
For more information, contact: David Albright, President
or Kevin O'Neill, Deputy Director
Science group says Pakistan has enough weapon grade uranium for 16 - 20 nuclear bombs; plutonium production efforts also "nearing fruition"
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) today released assessments of Pakistan's ability to produce weapon-grade uranium (WGU) and plutonium, the key nuclear explosive materials used to assemble nuclear weapons.
According to ISIS, Pakistan likely possesses 335 to 400 kg of WGU, sufficient to assemble 16 to 20 nuclear weapons, even after its recent nuclear tests. By the end of 1998, ISIS has concluded, this inventory could increase to 600 kg, or enough for 30 weapons. This stock is nearly as large as if Pakistan had never halted WGU production in 1991.
Pakistan's information about its WGU production is highly classified. Therefore, uncertainties exist about its program, particularly about when Pakistan resumed WGU production. ISIS has concluded that Pakistan resumed production at least several months ago.
Pakistan has also commissioned a reactor to produce plutonium, which could produce 10 to 15 kgs annually or enough material for 2 to 3 bombs, once it is fully operational. Based on the experience of other countries operating similar reactors, ISIS has concluded that it may take Pakistan a few years to operate this reactor at or near full capacity. However, this date could be achieved more quickly if Pakistan made it a national priority.
In contrast to Pakistan, ISIS has concluded that India currently possesses enough separated plutonium for about 75 nuclear weapons, and is capable producing additional material through the end of 1998 to enlarge its arsenal to almost 80 weapons. India is not thought to have the capability to produce several tens-of-kilograms of WGU per year, although India is believed to be seeking this capability.
Two analyses, entitled "Pakistan's Stock of Weapon-Grade Uranium" and "Pakistan's Efforts to Obtain Unsafeguarded Plutonium are Nearing Fruition," and an article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled "Pakistan's Bomb: Out of the Closet," are attached. For further information, contact ISIS at (202) 547-3633.