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Hard Target: Growing Pakistani missile technology and beyond

September 9, 2010

Pakalert-

Various news reports are filtering int which shed light on the astronomical success of the Pakistani Nuclear program. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is expanding faster than any other nation’s. Independent analysts are astonished at the speed of development of new weapon systems and the robust testing and their operationalization. While the exact number of potent Pakistani Nuclear bombs is a closely guarded secret, the actual number of Pakistani Nuclear bombs is estimated to be more than 350. One such report comes from Mr. Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. Mr. Kristrnsen’s information does not reveal new secrets. The entire world knows that the Shaheen II was displayed in a Pakistan Day parade in 2003. The planet also knows that Pakistan has been testing this long range missile since 2004. It has taken Pakistan about four years of intensive testing to perfec the Shaheen II missiles. Various new programs are germinated during testing. The fact that the Shaeen II has been operationalized should come as a surprise only to the very naive.

Work on the Raad and Babur missiles began a decade ago. Mr. Kristrnsen’s epiphany about the cruse missiles is a surprise and sheds some light on the investigatve strengths and weaknesses of the Federation of American Scientists. However independent confirmation of Pakistani announcements is always a good thing for all concerned.

Mr. Hans M. Kristensen has published this picture of the Masroor Air force base. Mr. Kristensen claims that Pakistani nuclear weapons are stored at the base. Even if they were, surely they are gone from this site now. Masroor is near Karachi, and it is unlikely that the weapons would be stored in a densly populated area.Mr. Hans M. Kristensen has published this picture of the Masroor Air force base. Mr. Kristensen claims that Pakistani nuclear weapons are stored at the base. Even if they were, surely they are gone from this site now. Masroor is near Karachi, and it is unlikely that the weapons would be stored in a densly populated area.

Hans M. Kristensen is Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists where he provides the public with analysis and background information about the status of nuclear forces and the role of nuclear weapons. He specializes in using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in his research and is a frequent consultant to and is widely referenced in the news media on the role and status of nuclear weapons.

  • Mr Kristensen wrote that Pakistan’s nuclear-capable Shaheen-II medium-range ballistic missile also appears to be approaching operational deployment after long preparation. (Development flight tests of the Shaheen-II began in March 2004 when a 26-ton missile was launched from Pakistan’s Somiani Flight Test Range on the Arabian Sea)..a 700-2,500km-range missile dubbed as the Shaheen-II, about which little is known.[30] Mock-ups of the missile displayed during the National Day celebrations in March 2003 suggest that it is a two-stage, solid-motor, road mobile system, transported on a 12-wheel TEL vehicle
  • The Army test-launched two missiles within three days in April 2008, and the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Centre (NASIC) reported in June 2009 that the weapon “probably will soon be deployed,” he noted.
  • Two types of nuclear-capable cruise missiles are also under development —— the ground-launched Babur and the air-aunched Ra—ad, Mr Kristensen said.
  • Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility are also under construction by Pakistan.
  • Mr Kristensen said that the development of cruise missiles with nuclear capability is interesting because it suggests that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons designers have been successful in building smaller and lighter plutonium warheads.

Hatf-VI (IRBM) Shaheen II is Pakistan’s longest-range ballistic missile system with a range of 2000 kilometers and has the potential to achieve 2500 kilometers in an advanced version. It is a two-stage solid fuel missile which can carry nuclear and conventional warheads with high accuracy.

April 26, 2008: Pakistan announced that, after nearly a decade of development, its Hatf VI IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) is ready for service. The system, also called Shaheen II, has a range of 2,000 kilometers, can carry a nuclear warhead, and hit any part of India. At least a dozen of these missiles are being built, andmoved around on mobile transporter/launchers. The Hatf VI will be a major part of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent against Indian invasion

… a 700-2,500km-range missile dubbed as the Shaheen-II, about which little is known.[30] Mock-ups of the missile displayed during the National Day celebrations in March 2003 suggest that it is a two-stage, solid-motor, road mobile system, transported on a 12-wheel TEL vehicle. Analysts speculate that the Shaheen-II is possibly a two-stage version of the M-9, or more likely a copy of the M-18, which was publicly displayed at an exhibition in Beijing in either 1987 or 1988. The M-18 was originally advertised as a two-stage system with a payload capacity of 400-500kg over a range of 1,000km.[31] U.S. intelligence sources suggest that Pakistan remains heavily reliant on external assistance for the Shaheen-II program and that China is actively assisting Pakistan through the supply of missile components, specialty materials, dual-use items, and other miscellaneous forms of technical assistance.[32].

Development flight tests of the Shaheen-II began in March 2004 when a 26-ton missile was launched from Pakistan’s Somiani Flight Test Range on the Arabian Sea.[33] According to the Chairman of Pakistan’s National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, the missile covered a distance of 1,800km during the test. [34]. The missile was tested in March 2005, April 2006, and February 2007.[55] Subsequently, reports in summer 2007 stated that Pakistan had begun the process of deployment of the Shaheen-II.[53]

The missile’s basic airframe is made from steel, although some sections may be crafted out of aluminum. The propulsion system is a liquid rocket engine that uses a storable combination of inhibited red fuming nitric acid and kerosene. During the boost phase, four jet vanes are used for thrust vector control. It is also believed that the missile uses three body-mounted gyros for attitude and lateral acceleration control. In addition, “a pendulum integration gyro assembly serves for speed control.” The Nodong’s range and throw weight has been variously estimated between 800-1,500km and 700-1,300kg, respectively.

Much to the chagrin of its enemies, Pakistan has expedited its nuclear program. The ISIS makes it look its breaking news. It is now reporting that Pakistan has a Plutonium program. The ISIS analysts may have been living in a cave, because Islamabad has always had a Plutonium program. Obviously the program is ongoing and and will surely add to the number of bombs that it possesses. The New York Times revealed the following

  • The subtext of the argument is growing concern about the speed with which Pakistan is developing new generations of both conventional and nuclear weapons. “There’s a concerted effort to get these guys to slow down,”
  • At issue is the detection by American intelligence agencies of a suspicious missile test on April 23 — a test never announced by the Pakistanis — that appeared to give the country a new offensive weapon.

Pakistan’s multifaceted missile program has various components

  • Short Range Missiles: Hataf
  • Medium Range Missiles: Shaheen
  • Long Range Missiles: Ghauri
  • ICBM/SLV: Taimur
  • Pakistan’s atomic weapons stockpile has jumped to an estimated 70-90 warheads from a previous figure of 60 and it is also developing two new types of nuclear-capable cruise missiles, according to a top American scientist.

    Writing for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Hans M Kristensen cited the latest Nuclear Notebook published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to highlight Pakistan’s expansion of its nuclear warheads.

    The estimate of 70-90 nuclear warheads in Pakistan’s atomic weapons stockpile is an increase compared with the previous estimate of approximately 60 warheads due to Islamabad’s pending introduction of a new ballistic missile and cruise missiles, he said.

    Mr Kristensen wrote that Pakistan’s nuclear-capable Shaheen-II medium-range ballistic missile also appears to be approaching operational deployment after long preparation.

    The Army test-launched two missiles within three days in April 2008, and the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Centre (NASIC) reported in June 2009 that the weapon “probably will soon be deployed,” he noted.

    Two types of nuclear-capable cruise missiles are also under development —— the ground-launched Babur and the air-aunched Ra—ad, Mr Kristensen said.

    Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility are also under construction by Pakistan.

    Mr Kristensen said that the development of cruise missiles with nuclear capability is interesting because it suggests that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons designers have been successful in building smaller and lighter plutonium warheads.

    He also noted that a recent article in the CTC Sentinel news letter of the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point had said that “most” of Pakistan’s nuclear sites might be close to or even within terrorist dominated areas.

    Senior US officials were quoted as saying that the weapons were mostly located south of Islamabad, Mr Kristensen said.

    According to the latest Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, it is exceedingly difficult to estimate precisely how many nuclear weapons Pakistan has produced, how many are deployed and of what types. However, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may not have reached 100 warheads as of yet.

    Pakistan is thought to have produced approximately 2,000 kg of highly enriched uranium and 90 kg of separated military plutonium by early 2008, it said.

    Pakistan is also expanding its capabilities to reprocess plutonium. Satellite images show that Pakistan is constructing a second separation facility adjacent to the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology in Rawalpindi, that could handle the plutonium produced in the two new Khushab reactors, it said. Pak’s n-arsenal contains up to 90 warheads: US scientisthttp://beta.thehindu.com/news/article13329.ece?homepage=true

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    Kristensen is co-author of the Nuclear Notebook column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the World Nuclear Forces overview in the SIPRI Yearbook. The Nuclear Notebook is, according to the publisher, “widely regarded as the most accurate source of information on nuclear weapons and weapons facilities available to the public.” His publications are available at http://www.nukestrat.com/pubs.htm

    Between 2002 and 2005, Kristensen was a consultant to the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C, where he researched nuclear weapons issues and wrote the report “U.S. Nuclear Weapons In Europe” (February 2005) and co-authored numerous articles including “What’s Behind Bush’s Nuclear Cuts” (Arms Control Today, October 2004) and “The Protection Paradox” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 2004). Between 1998 and 2002, Kristensen directed the Nuclear Strategy Project at the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, CA, and he was a Special Advisor to the Danish Ministry of Defense in 1997-1998 as a member of the Danish Defense Commission. He was a Senior Researcher with the Nuclear Information Unit of Greenpeace International in Washington D.C from 1991 to 1996, prior to which he coordinated the Greenpeace Nuclear Free Seas Campaign in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

    Kristensen’s work on U.S. nuclear policy in 2005 led to the disclosure that preemptive nuclear strikes were being incorporated into U.S. post-Cold War joint nuclear doctrine for the first time. The disclosure triggered political reactions from Russia, Germany, and North Korea. In the United States the disclosure caused the Senate Armed Services Committee to request briefings from the Pentagon and 16 Senators to write President Bush asking him to intervene.
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