The Indian government appeared unfazed on Friday by a Washington-based think tank’s report that Pakistan was building a third plutonium-production reactor at Khushab.
Though no official comment was made, bureaucrats speaking on condition of anonymity said there was nothing new in the report. They said they were aware of what was going on at the Khushab nuclear site, 100 km from Islamabad, and at Chashma, where work on building a plutonium separation facility is in progress.
They said there was no reason to involve India in the matter as the report had done. An official said, “Why does India always get dragged in? What does this have to do with India?”
Satellite images taken on June 3 and analysed by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington indicated that the third Khushab reactor was a replica of the second heavy-water reactor being built there.
The report, published on June 21, co-authored by David Albright, the ISIS’s director and a former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear inspector, and Paul Brannan, a research analyst at the institute, says, “The recent activity at Khushab and Chashma should be viewed as a sign of an accelerated nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan.”
It adds: “Both India and Pakistan appear on the verge of greatly expanding their production of nuclear explosive materials and nuclear weapons, including more powerful weapons.”
K Santhanam, former director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, said, “India has no cause for alarm. The existing Pakistani nuclear-weapons programme is based on enriched uranium, the technology for which was stolen by AQ Khan.” He said the process takes time and yields very low volumes, and constitutes no threat to India.