The exterior of Pakistan’s newest plutonium-production reactor appears almost complete, though it is unclear when the reactor will be up and running.
Satellite photography captured as recently as Nov. 1 “clearly shows that the external construction of the fourth reactor building [at the Khushab nuclear complex] appears nearly complete,” Serena Kelleher-Vergantini and Robert Avagyan find in an Institute for Science and International Security report published on Friday.
However, the imagery also shows that a “considerable amount of additional construction” remains under way at the reactor site, according to the report.
Islamabad does not provide updates to the international community on the status of efforts to expand its fissile-material production capabilities. That leaves the public just a few sources of information about the program, such as commercial-satellite images.
“Given that satellite imagery provides limited indication of the reactor’s operational status, predicting when the fourth reactor will become operational is difficult,” write Kelleher-Vergantini and Avagyan.
The fourth reactor appears to have a layout slightly different from the two reactors that immediately preceded it at Khushab. Construction of the new heavy-water reactor has also moved at a more sluggish pace than was earlier predicted. This could be the result of working out the kinks of a new reactor blueprint or for an entirely different reason that cannot be detected by satellite, according to the ISIS report.
The space-based surveillance did not turn up any signs that work had begun on a potential fifth plutonium reactor at Khushab, the authors noted.
Pakistan is believed to be growing its plutonium-production capacity in order to allow it to acquire an arsenal of plutonium-fueled warheads. Its current nuclear arsenal uses uranium-based warheads.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
What We're Following See More »
No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.
Three million—a number that lays "bare the significant gap between Donald Trump’s bare-bones operation and the field program that Clinton and her hundreds of aides have been building for some 17 months."
In a somewhat shocking move, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president, saying a vote for him is one that voters "can be proud of." The editorial barely touches on Donald Trump, who the paper has time and again called "unfit to be president," before offering a variety of reasons for why it can't endorse Hillary Clinton. Johnson has been in the news this week for being unable to name a single world leader who he admires, after earlier this month being unable to identify "Aleppo," a major Syrian city in the middle of the country's ongoing war.
"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."