Category Archives: Pakistan

Pakistan and Low Numbers

A reader (yes, that one) points out that, in the interview I blogged about “here,”: Musharraf made a good point about deterrence with a low number (for us, anyway) of nuclear weapons:

bq. MUSHARRAF: What difference does it make if we are 94 or whether it’s
54 or 94 or 150 or — what does that mean?

Hoodbhoy on Pakistan’s Future

The well-known Pakistani physicist and social activist Pervez Hoodbhoy has a “five-year forecast”: for his country:

bq. As for the future: Tribal insurgents cannot overrun Islamabad and Pakistan’s main cities, which are protected by thousands of heavily armed military and paramilitary troops. Rogue elements within the military and intelligence agencies have instigated or organized suicide attacks against their own colleagues. Now, dazed by the brutality of these attacks, the officer corps finally appears to be moving away from its earlier sympathy and support for extremism. This makes a seizure of the nuclear arsenal improbable. But Pakistan’s “urban Taliban,” rather than illiterate tribal fighters, pose a nuclear risk. There are indeed more than a few scientists and engineers in the nuclear establishment with extreme religious views.

Read “the whole thing”:

HRC is Worried

Elise Labott of CNN “quotes the Secretary of State”:

“I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state,” Clinton said in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday.

“I don’t hear that kind of outrage and concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan,” she added.

Welcome to the club, Madame Secretary.

CNN goes on to quote “Ambassador Husain Haqqani”:, who rather articulately says what’s ~not~ wrong with the current policy of dithering and appeasement.

Elaine Grossman of Global Security Newswire “also quotes Clinton”: as saying that the Pakistan situation “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”

These are pretty remarkable remarks about a Major Non-NATO Ally.

Still. I promise that I’m not going to try to turn this into a “what’s-the-matter-with-Pakistan”: blog. So, enough for now.

Update: Get your fix from “Bill Roggio”:

Update 2: And from “Jane Perlez and colleagues”: And “Glenn Kessler”:

More About Centrifuge Lineage


Maybe you remember some earlier discussion of “Iran’s new-generation centrifuges”: The IAEA introduced the subject to us back in “Feb. 2008”:

bq. 44. On 8 November 2007, Iran stated that it “agreed that exchanging of the new centrifuge generation information” would be discussed with the Agency in December 2007 (GOV/2007/58, para. 33). On 13 January 2008, the Director General and Deputy Director General for Safeguards visited an AEOI R&D laboratory at Kalaye Electric, where they were given information on R&D activities being carried out there. These included work on four different centrifuge designs: two subcritical rotor designs, a rotor with bellows and a more advanced centrifuge. Iran informed the Agency that the R&D laboratory was developing centrifuge components, measuring equipment and vacuum pumps with the aim of having entirely indigenous production capabilities in Iran.

So, just how “indigenous”: are these designs, exactly? Do they have an identifiable lineage?

For glimmerings of insight into this question, we must turn to the indefatigable Mark Hibbs, who has had a few articles on related subjects in recent years.

According to MH in the Jan. 29, 2007 issue of _NuclearFuel_, Pakistan developed not just the by-now-familiar P-1, based on URENCO’s SNOR and CNOR machines, and not just the P-2, based on URENCO’s G-2, but also a P-3 and P-4, starting in the mid-1980s.

(As an aside, this might explain why Khan and his associates were prepared to start selling the earlier technology: it was obsolete. Old machines were being replaced, and those elements of the supply chain that were devoted to their components and materials (e.g., CNOR bearings) would no longer serve a purpose for Pakistan, KRL, or Khan — except to make some money.)

Hibbs writes:

bq. While individual segments of Pakistan’s aluminum P-1 model had a throughput of less than 1 SWU/year, P-2, which features two maraging steel rotor tube segments, had a throughput of about 5 SWU/yr. P-3, the first of two later centrifuges, according to the intelligence information, is a four-tube model with a throughput of just under 12 SWU/yr. A successor model, P-4, may have a throughput slightly over 20 SWU/yr, the information indicates.

It should come as no surprise, by now, that the P-3 and P-4 were based on URENCO models, the four-tube 4-M and the six-tube TC-10, also known as SLM, according to MH in the Feb. 15, 2007 issue of _Nucleonics Week._

It’ll certainly be interesting to learn how much the IR-4 — apart from having carbon-fiber rotors — resembles the P-3. Certainly, to judge by what Hibbs writes, the IAEA had its suspicions.

Another possibility, though, is that the IR-4 is basically an upgraded, carbon-fiber version of the P-2, owing nothing in particular to the P-3 or P-4.

As for the “more advanced centrifuge” mentioned by the IAEA last year, we’ll just have to wait and see.

_Edited lightly for clarity._

Putting Things In Perspective

This blog advertises itself as being about arms control, but you’ll notice that it’s all about Iran, North Korea, Syria, and occasionally places like Libya or the UAE, with glances from time to time in the direction of New Delhi or Moscow. (Back when Anya blogged here, you’d see the occasional Belarus item, of course.) The point? Above all else — and this is my personal view, but I think Paul would agree — this is really a blog about the nonproliferation regime and its problems.

Why? Because it’s interesting. It’s full of new developments and there are all sorts of little puzzles to solve. This is why people play Sudoku, too. It doesn’t suggest that any of these topics is necessarily the most important thing going on.

The P-Word

And what is? Well, if you worry about the spread of nuclear weapons or the possibility of nuclear terrorism, then Issue Number One is not Iran, and it’s not North Korea, either. At the moment, it’s not even MPC&A in Russia. It’s Pakistan, and how much longer there will be a Pakistan as we know it.

Iran’s always a hot topic because a radical theocracy might get the Bomb. “But what if the Bomb gets a radical theocracy?”: A _really_ radical one, too. They do have TV and the Internet in Iran, you realize, but Afghanistan didn’t when the Taliban were in charge there, and Pakistan is now headed down that path. When the corrupt old order crumbles and “Commander of the Faithful” Mullah Omar assumes power over 175 million hungry mouths and who-knows-how-many nuclear warheads, then the fun begins.

That’s when the “nonproliferation”: crowd sort of runs out of things to say, and the “counterproliferation”: folks pick up.

All of our national debates over Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea pale in comparison to this scenario, which I’m extremely sorry to say is no longer a theoretical possibility, but is “unfolding”: “before”: “our”: “eyes”:

Let’s hope there’s still time to rescue the situation. Unfortunately, it’s fair to say that we won’t have much help from the current Pakistani authorities, who — even “after”: “everything”: “that’s”: “happened”: there — are seemingly “unable”: or “unwilling”: to recognize that either their country’s problems or the solutions to them lie within their own borders. And that, of course, is the problem.

P is for Persian

That’s what Iran’s IAEA rep Ali Asgar Soltanieh says, “according to Fars News”:

bq. About Iran’s new centrifuges, Soltanieh said, “Previous centrifuges are not centrifuges of Pakistan class – they are “Persian” class (P-1, P-2 or IR-1, IR-2).

Yep. And in Libya, the P-1 was called the L-1.

Now, as Iranian nuclear-program howlers go, that doesn’t crack the top ten. But let’s recall all that LEU and HEU cross-contamination found on Iran’s first set of P-1s, some of Khan Research Labs’ castoffs. Would Mr. Soltanieh care to take credit for those traces, after all?

Once upon a time, of course, some devices not unlike the P-1 were called “SNOR and CNOR”: But now I’m rehashing ancient history.