Pakistan’s A-Bomb Potential

The high-enriched uranium produced at the Kahuta gas centrifuge plant near Islamabad is suitable for bombs and free from international controls. International inspectors are not allowed to visit Kahuta, so the plant’s exact capacity is not known. U.S. officials and Pakistani reports estimate that at least 1,000 centrifuges operate at Kahuta, giving Pakistan the ability to produce more than 20 kilograms of 93 percent high-enriched uranium annually. Since the mid-1980s, Pakistan could have produced enough material for up to a dozen nuclear bombs, with each bomb using approximately 15 kilograms of high-enriched uranium.

Pakistani officials say the Kahuta plant has stopped making weapon-grade uranium, and is now producing only low-enriched uranium to help fuel the nuclear reactor being built by China atChashma. There are reports, however, that Pakistan is building a new enrichment facility at Golra, about six miles west of Islamabad. Golra is part of the same complex as Kahuta, but its director, A.Q. Khan, denies Golra is an uranium enrichment facility.

Plant: Kahuta
Capacity: 1,000 or more centrifuges, 5 separative work units (SWU) per centrifuge per year
Start-up: Early 1980s
High-Enriched Uranium: Approximately 170 kilograms. enough for 8-12 bombs