India’s Anticipated Uranium Boost Prompts Alarm in Islamabad

Global Security Newswire Staff
Global Security Newswire Staff
June 20, 2014, 10:29 a.m.

A Pakistani of­fi­cial be­moaned In­dia’s ap­par­ent pro­gress on a new site cap­able of mak­ing urani­um for ad­vanced nuc­le­ar weapons, Re­u­ters re­ports.

The high-level in­sider soun­ded alarm over a Fri­day find­ing that In­dia is inch­ing to­ward com­ple­tion of a second urani­um-en­rich­ment fa­cil­ity at its Rare Ma­ter­i­als Plant near Myso­re. The pos­sible gas-cent­ri­fuge site could an­nu­ally gen­er­ate fuel for five bombs fol­low­ing its launch, which may take place by next sum­mer, IHS Jane’s se­cur­ity spe­cial­ists said in a Fri­day ana­lys­is of satel­lite im­ages and re­marks by In­di­an gov­ern­ment per­son­nel.

In­dia could also com­bine any ad­di­tion­al urani­um with plutoni­um from its cur­rent stock­pile, po­ten­tially help­ing New Del­hi to build a class of more power­ful “ther­mo­nuc­lear” weapons, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

“This is something that In­dia has been try­ing to de­vel­op for a long time,” said Tariq Az­eem, a staffer for Pakistani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif. “We don’t want any nuc­le­ar race. That doesn’t bode well for either coun­try.”

Az­eem ad­ded that In­dia’s re­por­ted work on the fa­cil­ity un­der­lined its “es­tab­lished he­ge­mony” as a nuc­le­ar power.

The po­ten­tial clandes­tine site in south­ern In­dia may be­come cap­able of gen­er­at­ing roughly twice the amount of urani­um fuel needed for the coun­try’s fu­ture line of sub­mar­ines, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. Karl Dewey, pro­lif­er­a­tion ed­it­or at IHS Jane’s In­tel­li­gence Re­view, said the ad­di­tion­al pro­duc­tion ca­pa­city would “most likely” sup­port nuc­le­ar-arms activ­it­ies, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by the re­search group.

Ac­cord­ing to former U.S. State De­part­ment of­fi­cial Mark Fitzpatrick, In­dia’s re­por­ted ex­pan­sion of the Myso­re site’s urani­um-re­fine­ment ca­pa­city would fur­ther bol­ster its “already far great­er ad­vant­age over Pakistan in terms of nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­duc­tion po­ten­tial.”

“It also brings In­dia closer to match­ing China, which is how most In­di­ans would prob­ably see it,” Fitzpatrick said.

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