Saturday, July 08, 2006

Downplaying the Chashma Nuclear Reactor

What do we really know about the nuclear research at Chashma?

How many nuclear power plants are there?

The Pakistanis say there are two power plants - both Pressurized Water Reactors - Chashnupp-1 and Chashnupp-2. Chashnupp-1 is rated for 325 MW and Chashnupp-2 is due to deliver about 325 MW by 2011. The Pakistanis even talk about building a Chashnupp-3 and 4.

The NPAs Zia Mian and A H Nayyar wrote that Chashnupp-1 is a Qinshan-1 reactor from China. The first plans for Chashnupp-1 projected at 1000MWe output. They allege that the chief designer of the Qinshan-1 is Ouyang Yu was also the man responsible for the creation of China's first military - i.e. fissile-material-for-bombs production reactor. They also provide a map of planned nuclear sites in Pakistan and on page 63 - they provide a comparison of the Qinshan-1 and the Chashnupp-1 reactors. Most of the entries in the Chashnupp column are empty. This report is dated 1999 - today it is 2006.

The French had offered to build a Plutonium reprocessing facility at Chashma. and then backed out after Pakistan refused to sign the NPT but the Federation of American Scientists site helpfully tells us that "US experts downplayed Pakistan's reprocessing capabilities, suggesting that the reprocessing plant at Chasma as "an empty shell"" The FAS website also notes that "but after the tests sources claimed that know-how which had been provided to Pakistan was "very considerable."" This was in 1998.

So which is it?

Are the PUREX facilities at Chashma "an empty shell" or are the "very considerable"?
or is this just not important for the Non-Proliferation Community? Clearly Google Earth doesn't think so. Google Earth has only this 15-m resolution image of Chashma. They have images from later 2005 - why aren't these up yet? It took them all of 30 seconds to put up images of BARC and Rashtrapati Bhavan in India - so why it taking so gosh-darn long to put up 1-m resolution photos of Chashma?

My friend's house in Gurukripa Housing Society in Sindhi Colony in Chembur Mumbai is featured in 50 cm resolution - why is Chashma still in 15m resolution? what are they waiting for Allah to give them permission?

There has been some talk of problems with the Chashnupp-1 pressure vessel and there were reports of an accident. Some of you might recall that 9 Pakistani scientists working at Chashma left their jobs to pursue "better paying jobs" abroad. This is *after* 9-11! and yet there is not one article by the Non-Proliferation community which talks about the problems of the Pakistani Chinese cooperation at Chashma. You may also recall that two PAEC scientists, both believed to have knowledge of Plutonium refining were believed to be in contact with Bin Laden before 9/11.

The same people that wave the NPT in India's face when we say that we want to buy American reactors - are very quiet about what China and Pakistan do in Chashma. There is even a "grandfather clause" which allows the Chinese to circumvent their NSG regulations on supplying only IAEA safeguarded reactors. Apparently due to the "grandfather clause" the Chinese are allowed to supply unsafeguarded reactors to Chashma. Isn't that just convenient?

David Albright and Susan Basu have all this time in the world to go through all the tenders issued by the DAE and write huge articles about RMP Rattehalli and FAS can put up all the map coordinates that you need to know and SpaceImaging will happily provide us high resolution images of Rattehalli - but where are the photos and analysis of Chashma? The only thing the NPA have said so far about the Chashma reactor is that it is a white elephant, i.e. the amount of money being spent on it is not commensurate with the apparent gain in terms of electrical power - to me this is a straightforward sign that money is being used for something else in Chashma and yet the NPA don't seem to want to come out and say that.

Why does the NPA community insist on pretending that Chashma is not a security threat or a proliferation problem?

Why this absence of a focus on Chashma?

Are the NPA incompetent or have the NPA made a deal with China that says - "China agrees to overtly accept the norms of the NPT and the NSG and the Non-Proliferation Community agrees to keep its mouth shut about China's proliferation activities" ?

If so is this a rational security calculus?

Add to this the absurd errorbars that the NPAs like Albright assign to the number of nuclear weapons the Pakistanis have (eg. 55-95) - and one wonders how any rational security calculation is possible such a complete absence of information.

Are the NPA and their friends in the American national security services completely reliant on Chinese support to contain Pakistan related proliferation?

Is that what this is all about?


At 8:58 PM, Blogger Aryabhata said...

There is huge amount of hypocrisy in US dealing with Pakistan. We have to expect this favoritism as Pakistani generals made their country a virtual US puppet. Whatever the mainline media say the US state department and the US defense departments immensely favor Pakistan than India. The relations between the US military, CIA and state department bureaucrats go back to at least 50 years with Pakistani generals. This cozy relationship made both sides rich. Whatever the temporary elected representatives like US President, Condi Rice and India PM might envision shifting the US bureaucratic loyalty to India will be very tough.

I heard the recent earthquake in Pakistan had damaged huge parts of their nuclear facilities. Do you have any information about that?

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous cynical nerd said...

Maverick: Excellent analysis.

I am told that Google Earth updates high res images depending on demand - this may be false but one way is to circulate the lat and long of Mianwali, Pakistan (32 35' N and 71 32' E) and also make a specific request at Google Earth here keyhole forum here.


At 8:59 AM, Blogger maverick said...


I don't know what that is about. I have heard some rumors about a facility inside Margalla Hills - something in the general direction of the hills north of Pir Sohawa. Other rumors also exist about something more than just a few militant camps in Balakot and Ugi in Mansehra. These are unsubstantiated rumors - can't say anything either ways.


I am wondering why the NPA haven't requested that Chashma images be up there. If they ask for it - they will have to analyse it and confront the true extent of Chinese proliferation in Pakistan. That is what they are tring to avoid.


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