Pakistan is embarking on a major expansion of its nuclear weapons programme by building a new reactor to produce plutonium, according to an analysis of satellite pictures by a Washington thinktank.  According to the assessment, released today, satellite imagery of the Khushab nuclear site in Pakistani Punjab shows a 1,000-megawatt reactor capable of generating plutonium for more than 40 nuclear warheads a year. The new reactor would produce 20 times the amount of plutonium Pakistan makes currently.

This would be a major step forward for Pakistan as its nuclear weaponry relies on uranium, which is heavier than plutonium and thus requires a bigger missile to deliver a warhead. The Pakistani army is thought to have about 50 uranium warheads.  Both India and Pakistan, which have fought three conventional wars in less than 60 years, already have nuclear weapons and an arsenal of missiles capable of reaching far beyond each other’s territory.

Full article here. The White House, through press secretary Tony Snow, responds:

‘We have been aware of these plans and we discourage any use of that facility for military purposes such as weapons development,’ White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters . . . ‘Pakistan of course is outside the non proliferation treaty and therefore they do develop their capabilities independently,’ Snow said.

I’ll bet it gets hard after awhile to keep track of which nukes we’re supposed to be outraged about. I know imaginary nukes get us really riled up, but after that, the picture is really hazy.

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