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 »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”