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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan Nuclear Testing

On 28 May 1998 Pakistan announced that it had successfully conducted five nuclear tests. According to the announcment, the results were as expected, and there was no release of radioactivity. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission that the five nuclear tests conducted on Thursday measured up to 5.0 on the Richter scale, with a reported yield of up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT). According to local reports, these detonations took place over a two hour period. One device was said to be a boosted uranium device, with the four other tests being low yield sub-kiloton devices. On 30 May 1998 Pakistan tested one more nuclear warhead with a yield of 12 kilotons. The tests were conducted at Balochistan, bringing the total number of claimed tests to six. It has also been claimed by Pakistani sources that at least one additional device, initially planned for detonation on 30 May 1998, remained emplaced underground ready for detonation.

Pakistani claims concerning the number and yields of their underground tests cannot be independently confirmed by seismic means, and it has been suggested by Indian sources that as few as two weapons were actually detonated, each with yields considerably lower than claimed by Pakistan. Initially, seismic data was interpreted as indicating at least two and possibily a third, much smaller, test in the initial round of tests at the Ras Koh range. Subsequent analysis, however, confirmed at least one test on 28 May, though the possibility of two additional tests was not excluded. The single test on 30 May provided a clear seismic signal.

[boosted device?] 28 May 1998 25-36 kiloton
Fission device 28 May 1998 12 kiloton 7-8 kiloton
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Fission device 30 May 1998 12 kiloton 1-3 kiloton
Fission device not detonated 12 kiloton

1 1998148 05/28/98 10:16:15.8 28.950N 64.720E 4.9 PDE-Q 1440562 1570
2 1998150 05/30/98 06:54:56.1 28.720N 64.020E 4.6 PDE-Q 1442998 1264

In the autumn of 1998 a report leaked from Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory indicated that air samples acquired from the Kharan Desert test by US intelligence aircraft contained traces of plutonium. Pakistan, at the time of the tests, had not had time to develop a warhead from the minimal quantities of plutonium generated by the research reactor at PINSTECH. The most plausible explanation was that North Korea had participated in a joint test of an atomic weapon.

It is noteworthy that the second small test at Wazir Khan Khosa, in the Kharan Desert was at such a great distance from the first larger test at Ras Koh. In contrast, India conducted multiple tests in close proximity. This creates the appearance that there were aspects of the Wazir Khan Khosa test that needed to be hidden from the staff that was conducting the Ras Koh test. It is also of note that Pakistan publicized the Ras Koh test by releasing a video/film of that test, but did not release any publicity concerning the Wazir Khan Khosa test.

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Page last modified: 04-04-2013 11:44:11 ZULU