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Nuclear power in Pakistan

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Nuclear power in Pakistan

As of 2012, nuclear power in Pakistan is provided by 3 licensed-commercial nuclear power plants.[1] Pakistan is the first Muslim country in the world to construct and operate civil nuclear power plants.[2] The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the scientific and nuclear governmental agency, is solely responsible for operating these power plants.[3] As of 2012, the electricity generated by commercial nuclear power plants constitutes roughly ~3.6% of electricity generated in Pakistan, compared to ~62% from fossil fuel, ~33% from hydroelectric power and ~0.3% from coal electricity.[4][5] Pakistan is one of the four nuclear armed states (along with India, Israel, and North Korea) that is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but is a member in good standing of the International Atomic Energy Agency.[6][7][8] Pakistan plans on constructing 32 nuclear power plants by 2050.[9]


  • History 1
  • Pakistan nuclear power reactors 2
  • International co-operation 3
    • People's Republic of China 3.1
    • France 3.2
    • United States 3.3
    • Japan 3.4
  • Fuel cycle 4
  • Radioactive wastes management 5
  • Nuclear reprocessing 6
  • Radiation control 7
  • Nuclear accidents 8
  • Industry and academic 9
  • Academic research 10
  • Non-proliferation 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Suggested reading 14
  • External links 15


Professor (and later Nobel laureate) Abdus Salam, as Science Advisor to the President, persuaded President Ayub Khan, to establish Pakistan's first commercial nuclear power reactor, near Karachi.[10][11] Known as Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), the commercial power plant is a small 137 MWe CANDU reactor, a Canadian pressurized heavy water reactor.

PAEC's Parvez Butt, a nuclear engineer, was project-director. The KANUPP began its operations in 1972, and it was inaugurated by President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Munir Ahmad Khan as PAEC chairman.[12] The KANUPP which is under international safeguards is operated at reduced power. In 1969, France's Commissariat à l'énergie atomique and United Kingdom's British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) contracted with PAEC to provide plutonium and nuclear reprocessing plants in Pakistan. Per agreement, the PAEC engineers were the lead designers of the power plants and nuclear reprocessing facilities. While the BNFL and CEA provided the funds, technical assistance and nuclear materials. The work on projects did not start until 1972, and as a result of India's Operation Smiling Buddha — a surprise nuclear test in 1974 — the BNFL cancelled the projects with PAEC. In 1974, PARR-II Reactor were commissioned, and its project directors were Munir Ahmad Khan and Hafeez Qureshi. The PARR-II is an indigenous reactor that was built under the auspices of PAEC's engineers and scientists.

In 1977, due to pressure exerted by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the CEA cancelled the projects with PAEC immediately. Without the assistance of United Kingdom and France, the PAEC engineers completed the plutonium nuclear reprocessing plant — New Labs — and the plutonium reactor — Khushab Nuclear Complex. Both power plants are commercial power plants control by PAEC. In 1989, People's Republic of China signed an agreement with Pakistan to provide 300 MWe CHASNUPP-I power plant under the IAEA safeguards. In 1990, both France and Soviet Union considered the Pakistan's request to provide the commercial nuclear power plants under the IAEA safeguards.[13] But, after the American Ambassador to Pakistan's Robert Oakley expressed U.S. displeasure at the agreements between the Soviet Union and France, the contracts were cancelled.[14] By the 2000, China had expanded its contract with PAEC and is currently assisting in construction of III, and IV power plants. II was completed in April 2011. Due to its growing electricity demands, the Pakistan Government ordered PAEC to set up nuclear power plants in the country. According to PAEC, the goal is to produced 8800 MW electricity by the 2030. Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani announced the Pakistan national energy policy in 2010 while the feasibility report was submitted in Prime Minister's Secretariat — the official residence of prime minister of Pakistan. The PAEC are currently planning to lead the construction of KANUPP-II nuclear power plant — a 1100 MWe power plant — and the KANUPP-III — 1100 MWe. While the commercial plants will be indigenously built, the preliminary work is put on hold as of 2009. In 2010, the Nuclear Power Fuel Complex (PNPFC) — a nuclear reprocessing power plant — was commissioned. PAEC led the construction, designing, and maintenance of the facility, while China and IAEA provided funds to the facility. On 26 November 2013 prime minister Nawaz Sharif performed groundbreaking ceremony for two nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 2200 MW near Karachi.

Pakistan nuclear power reactors

As of today, only three commercial nuclear power plants are currently operating. The following list provides information about current and future commercial nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power reactors Type Location Net capacity Construction start Connected to grid Commercial operation
CHASNUPP-I[15] PWR[15] Chasma, Punjab Province[15] 300 MWe[15] 1 August 1993[15] 13 June 2000[15] 15 September 2000[15]
CHASNUPP-II[16] PWR[16] Chasma, Punjab Province 300 MWe[16] 28 December 2005[16] 14 March 2011[16] 20 May 2011[16]
CHASNUPP-III[17] PWR[17] Chasma, Punjab Province[17] 340 MWe[17] 28 April 2009[1][17] 2016[1] N/A
CHASNUPP-IV[17] PWR[17] Chasma, Punjab Province[17] 340 MWe[17] 2011[1] 2017[1] N/A
CHASNUPP- V PWR Chasma, Punjab Province 1000 MWe 2014 2020 N/A
KANUPP-I[18] PHWR Paradise Point, Karachi, Sindh Province 90 MWe[18] 1 August 1966[18] 18 October 1971[18] 7 December 1972[18]
KANUPP-II[19][20] PWR[19][20] Paradise Point, Karachi, Sindh Province[19][20] 1000 MWe[19][20] Preliminary work started but then the project was put on hold in 2009.[20][21] 2020[19] 2020
KANUPP-III[22] PWR[22] Paradise Point, Karachi, Sindh Province[22] 1000 MWe[22] Designing of reactor is completed. But the construction has not yet started[23] 2020[23] 2020[23]
Muzaffargarh Nuclear Power Complex PWR Muzaffargarh, Punjab 1000 MWe PAEC reportedly plans to install three Chinese nuclear reactors at Muzaffargarh and the site is now being prepared.[24] 2020 2020

International co-operation

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China has been a strong vocal and avid supporter of Pakistan's nuclear power generation programme from the early on. The history of Chinese-Pakistan cooperation dates back to the 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as prime minister, first visited China. The strong academic interaction between Chinese and Pakistan scientists was begun in the 1970s. In 1986, the scientists from KRL and military engineers of Pakistan Army Engineering Corps built a HEU enrichment plant in Hanzhong province of PRC, and provided technical assistance to China in weapon-grade centrifuge technology for Chinese nuclear weapons. From the 1980s to the present, China has contracted with Pakistan to use of civil and electricity purpose use of nuclear technology.

As of 1990 contract, the second commercial nuclear power plant is CHASNUPP-I in Punjab—a 325 MWe PWR—supplied by China's CNNC under IAEA safeguards. The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), based on Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant. The commercial nuclear power plant began its operations May 2000. In 2005, China expanded its contract with Pakistan, and vowed to build more nuclear power plants in Pakistan. Construction of its twin, CHASNUPP-II, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost PkR 51.46 billion (US$ 860 million, with $350 million of this financed by China). In a meeting with IAEA, an IAEA safeguard agreement with PAEC and IAEA was signed in 2006, and the grid connection is expected in spring of 2011. The enriched fuel takes place in Pakistan's PNPFC facility, which is also under IAEA safeguards.

In 2005, both Pakistan government and the Chinese government adopted an Energy Security Plan, calling for a huge increase in generating capacity to more than 160,000 MWe by 2030. Pakistan Government plans for lifting nuclear capacity to 8800 MWe, 900 MWe of it by 2015 and a further 1500 MWe by 2020.[25]

Plans included four further Chinese reactors of 300 MWe each and seven of 1000 MWe, all PWR. There were tentative plans for China to build two 1000 MWe PWR units at Karachi as KANUPP II and III, but China then in 2007 deferred development of its CNP-1000 type which is the only one able to be exported. However, Last November 2012, China rolled out its new advanced 1000 MW pressurised water nuclear power reactor, ACPR-1000 at the Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen. This reactor was "independently" developed by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation with full IPR and made its debut at the 13th China Hi-Tech Fair, according to the official media. Since this reactor has been developed by China independently without the involvement of foreign suppliers, it is quite likely that China will export this reactor to Pakistan. PAEC is now currently preparing reports and planning to set up small but more commercial nuclear power plants indigenously.

In June 2008, the Pakistan Government announced plans to build commercial nuclear power plants III and IV commercial nuclear power plants at Chashma, Punjab Province, each with 320–340 MWe and costing PKR 129 billion, 80 billion of this from international sources, principally China. A further agreement for China's help with the project was signed in October 2008, and given prominence as a counter to the US–India agreement shortly preceding it. Cost quoted then was US$ 1.7 billion, with a foreign loan component of $1.07 billion.

In March 2009, SNERDI announced that it was proceeding with design of CHASNUPP-III and IV, with China Zhongyuan Engineering as the general contractor. The PAEC said Beijing was financing 85% of the US$ 1.6 billion project. Contracts for CHASNUPP-I and II were signed in 1990 and 2000, before 2004 when China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which maintains an embargo on sales of nuclear equipment to Pakistan, but there are questions about China's supply of Chasma-3 and 4. On 24 September 2010, China informed the IAEA that it will implement an agreement with Pakistan on the export of two nuclear reactors for Islamabad's Chashma nuclear complex. Beijing has said that the reactor deal is part of a 2003 agreement between the two countries, a claim many have questioned, though Germany has accepted.[26] These will be the third and fourth reactors at the complex. According to the Chinese communication to the IAEA, the reactors will be placed under international safeguards.[27] Concerns have been expressed over the lack the safety features incorporated into the Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 reactors, which are alleged to use a design which is not considered safe enough to build in China.[28]

In March 2013, Pakistan and China agreed to build a 1000 MW CHASNUPP-5 at Chashma Nuclear Power Complex.[29] In July 2013, it was announced that Pakistani officials were considering approval of KANUPP-2, a 1,000 megawatt reactor to be built with assistance from China.[30][31]


In May 2009, France agreed to cooperate with Pakistan on nuclear safety, which Pakistan's Foreign Minister called a 'significant development' related to the transfer of civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan. But later a spokesman for the French presidency was careful to rein in expectations, saying Mr Sarkozy had "confirmed France was ready, within the framework of its international agreements, to co-operate with Pakistan in the field of nuclear safety."[32] In October 2013, French Ambassador Philippe Thiebaud said "my country is ready to consider the request for enhancing civil nuclear cooperation in line with international obligations."[33]

United States

In a U.S.–Pakistan strategic dialogue on 24 March 2010, Pakistan pressed for a civil nuclear cooperation deal similar to that with India.[34] One analyst suggested that such a deal was unrealistic at present but might be possible in 10–15 years.[35]


In 2011, Dr. Irfan Yusuf Shami, the Director-General (Disarmament) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and Makyo Maya Gawa, the Director-General of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Department of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement for nuclear non-proliferation in Tokyo. Both countries agreed on maintaining stability in South Asia.[36]

In 2011, during the state visit of President Asif Zardari, Pakistan sought civil nuclear power cooperation with Japan, similarly to a previous deal between Japan and India. According to the Jang News group, the Japanese government refused the deal with Pakistan.[37] According to the Pakistan Media, the Pakistan officials were highly disappointed with Japanese denial. On the other hand, Japanese officials were left disappointed as Pakistan had denied the Japanese request to support Japan's candidacy for permanent seat for the United Nations Security Council.

Pakistan offered to provide Japan technical assistance in controlling nuclear radiation, following the Fukushima reactor nuclear accidents, and Japanese officials have accepted Pakistan's offer. On 20 March 2011, it was reported that scientists from the PNRA and PAEC were ready to leave for Japan as soon as IAEA approval was received. [38][38]

Fuel cycle

The government has set a target of producing 350 tonnes (U3O8)per year from 2015 to meet one third of anticipated requirements then. Low grade Ore is known in central Punjab Province at Bannu Basin and Suleman Range.

A small (15,000 SWU/yr) uranium centrifuge enrichment plant at Kahuta has been operated by the KRL since 1984 and does not have any apparent civil use. It was expanded threefold about 1991. A newer plant is reported to be at Gadwal which is operated by PAEC. The plant is not under safeguards of IAEA.

In 2006, the PAEC announced that it was preparing to set up separate and purely civil conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication plants as a new US$ 1.2 billion Nuclear Power Fuel Complex which would be under IAEA safeguards and managed separately from existing facilities. At least the enrichment plant would be built at Chak Jhumra, Faisalabad, in the Punjab and have a 150,000 SWU/yr capacity in five years — about 2013, then be expanded in 150,000 SWU increments to be able to supply one third of the enrichment requirements for a planned 8800 MWe generating capacity by 2030.

Radioactive wastes management

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is responsible for the radioactive waste management. From 1972, the PAEC has undertaken to establish the safety objectives, management, and radioactive waste management.[39] In 2004, the PNRA issued guidelines for the management of nuclear and radioactive waste management in nuclear and medical research centers under PAEC.[40] In 2010, the PNRA issued regulatory policy on radioactive waste materials, and Pakistan lawmakers presented the regulatory policy in Pakistan Parliament. The Parliament passed the PNRA regulatory policy unanimously, making it into laws.[41]

The PNRA proposed new Waste Management offices to control of the radiation and radioactive materials. The Waste Management Centres are proposed for Karachi, Rawalpindi, Nilore, Lahore and Chashma. Used fuel is currently stored at each reactor in pools. Longer-term dry storage at each site is proposed. The question of future reprocessing remains open. A National Repository for low- and intermediate-level wastes is due to be commissioned by 2015.

Nuclear reprocessing

The country also has operated one indigenous reprocessing plant, built by PAEC, which was known as the The New Labs — outside PINSTECH, Nilore, near Islamabad.[42] The PAEC had contracted with British BNFL for a reprocessing facility which was cancelled in 1974. It was built under the leadership of Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan[43] The plant became functional in the early 1980s, and it is not under IAEA inspection. The second nuclear reprocessing plant was also started by PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan, in 1976, at Chashma, under a contract agreement with France However, France cancelled the agreement for the said plant under US influence in August 1978 .[44] In 2006, the PAEC started work another nuclear fuel fabrication plant — Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex — located 175 kilometers south near Islamabad. An indigenous Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Complex at Kundian, known as Kundian Nuclear Fuel Complex (KNFC), already exists which was built by PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan and completed by 1980. Kundian Nuclear Fuel Complex makes nuclear fuel for KANUPP. However, the 2006 PNPFC project is being financed by the joint Sino-Pak Nuclear Technology Consortium, and the PAEC is leading the designing and construction of the plant. It will be under safeguards but KNFC is not under safeguards.[45] The Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex is under the IAEA safeguards and inspections as the IAEA also contributed in the mega project financially.

Radiation control

The PAEC's directorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control (NSRC) was responsible for the radiation and high radioactive material control in the country. However, in 2001, with the establishment of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), the responsibilities were shifted to PNRA. In 2003, the responsibilities and agency's goals were expanded, as PNRA were given the status of an executive agency. The PNRA oversees reactor safety and security, reactor licensing and renewal, radioactive material safety, security and licensing, and spent fuel management (storage, security, recycling, and disposal).[46] The PNRA closely work with Chinese CNNC, and is frequently visited by Chinese staff as its technical advisers.

Nuclear accidents

On 18–19 October 2011, the KANUPP Karachi nuclear power plant imposed a seven-hour emergency after heavy water leaked from a feeder pipe to the reactor. The leakage took place during a routine maintenance shut down, and the emergency was lifted seven hours later, after the affected area was isolated.[47]

Industry and academic

The American Nuclear Society (ANS), European Nuclear Society (ENS), Indian Nuclear Society (INS), Korean Nuclear Society (KNS), Chinese Nuclear Society (CNS), Hungarian Nuclear Society (HNS), and the Spanish Nuclear Society (SNS).[49] The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission also published large sums of publication, and published a quarterly magazine — The Nucleus.[50] The PAEC's academic scientists and engineers also publishes the newsletter — The PakAtom — concerning on nuclear technology and lobbying for the commercial nuclear power plants.[51]

Academic research

The academic research on nuclear technology began in 1956, with the establishment of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. In 1965, United States provided a 10 MW research reactor – Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor-I (PARR) – to Pakistan. The PARR-Reactor consists of three research reactors with a single nuclear particle accelerator. The first reactor was supplied by the U.S. government in 1965 and it is operated by the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). In 1969, the Center for Nuclear Studies was established, and it began its research in a small reactor that was provided by the PAEC. In 1989, the PAEC had built another small research reactor, known as Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor-II reactor. The PARR-II reactor is an indigenously built reactor by the PAEC, and is under IAEA safeguards since IAEA had funded this mega-project.

In 1986, another "multipurpose" heavy water reactor, a 50 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) near Khushab, was built. Known as Khushab-I, it went critical and started its operations in April 1998. The complex is evidently for producing weapons-grade plutonium, isotope production and nuclear reprocessing. A similar or possibly larger heavy water reactor has been under construction at Khushab since about 2002. Khushab is reported to be making demands upon the country's limited uranium resources. Reprocessing of weapon-grade material is reported to take place at Chashma Nuclear Complex, 80 km west.


Pakistan is not a signatory to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, it maintains a civil nuclear power general program under IAEA safeguards. Pakistan has repeatedly refused calls for international inspections of its enrichment and reprocessing activities. Munir Ahmad Khan, unlike his rival Abdul Qadeer Khan, developed Pakistan's nuclear weapons and power program ingeniously and quietly. While the weapons were developed in extreme secrecy, the profiles of academic scientists are kept highly classified, and completely unknown to the public. Strict nuclear proliferation policies were introduced by Abdus Sattar, Munir Ahmad Khan, and Ishfaq Ahmad in 1972, and since adhered to by the PAEC.

In May 1998, Pakistan, under the leadership of Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, carried out tests of 5 atomic devices — codenamed Chagai-I — at Ras Koh region of Chagai Hills. The first five nuclear devices were evidently made from HEU, and the tests were supervised by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Kahuta Research Laboratories, and the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers.[52] On May 30, small teams of PAEC scientists performed another test of 1 or 2 nuclear devices — codename Chagai-II — at the Kharan region. The devices were made of weapons-grade plutonium, and had a yield reported to be between 20 and 40 kilotons of TNT equivalent.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e
  2. ^ Nuclear power in Pakistan, Dr. Zia H. Siddiqui and Dr. I.H. Qureshi, pp.31–33.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c d e f g
  16. ^ a b c d e f
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  18. ^ a b c d e
  19. ^ a b c d e
  20. ^ a b c d e
  21. ^ Asad Hashim, Plan to establish 1,000MW Kanupp-II put on hold DAWN Media Group.
  22. ^ a b c d
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^ Pakistan in Talks to Acquire 3 Nuclear Plants From China
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ China, Pakistan reach controversial deal on nuclear power plant
  30. ^ With Chinese assistance: ECNEC set to approve three nuclear power plants
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Pakistan Pursues Nuclear Deal at High-Level Talks With U.S., Global Security Newswire, 24 March 2010.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ [ Japan denied the civil power cooperation with Pakistan]
  38. ^ a b
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Munir Ahmad Khan, How Pakistan made nuclear fuel, The Nation, 1998
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), PNRA official site.
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ 1998: World fury at Pakistan's nuclear tests

Suggested reading

  • Nuclear Power for Pakistan: Reviving the 3Es (Energy, Economy, and Environment), by Abdul Rehman Abbasi and Anwar ul Hasson Syed, in Proc. ICESE-2010.

External links

  • World Nuclear Organisation
  • Bringing Pakistan In From the Cold

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