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Nuclear Power in India and Pakistan - World Nuclear Association

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posted on Mar, 13 2006 @ 03:14 AM
A great Article which gives a lot of information on the nuclear capabilities of both countries, though there is alot of tension between them.....

February 2006

India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020.
Pakistan has a modest nuclear power program, with 425 MWe capacity and plans to increase this substantially.
The nuclear weapon capabilities of both countries have arisen independently of the civil nuclear fuel cycle. Both use indigenous uranium.
Because they are outside the NPT, due to their weapons programs, they are largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, which has hampered their development of civil nuclear energy.

Electricity demand in India has been increasing rapidly, and the 534 billion kilowatt hours produced in 2002 was almost double the 1990 output, though still representing only 505 kWh per capita for the year. This per capita figure is expected to almost triple by 2020, with 6.3% annual growth. Coal provides over half of the electricity at present, but reserves are limited.
Nuclear power supplied 2.8% of India's electricity in 2004 from 2.5 GWe (of 110 GWe total) capacity and this is expected to increase steadily as new plants come on line (now 3 GWe). India's fuel situation is driving the nuclear investment for electricity, and 25% nuclear contribution is foreseen by 2050, from one hundred times the 2002 capacity. Almost as much investment in the grid system as in power plants is necessary.

Nuclear industry development

Nuclear power for civil use is well established in India. Its civil nuclear strategy has been directed towards complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle, necessary because it is excluded from the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) due to it acquiring nuclear weapons capability after 1970. (Those five countries doing so before 1970 were accorded the status of Nuclear Weapons States under the NPT.)

This self-sufficiency extends from uranium exploration and mining through fuel fabrication, heavy water production, reactor design and construction, to reprocessing and waste management. It has a small fast breeder reactor and is building a much larger one. It is also developing technology to utilise its abundant resources of thorium as a nuclear fuel.

The Atomic Energy Establishment was set up at Trombay in 1957 and renamed as Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) ten years later. Plans for building the first Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) were finalised in 1964, and this prototype - Rawatbhata-1 which had Canada's Douglas Point reactor as a reference unit, was built as a collaborative venture between Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and NPCIL. It started up in 1972 and was duplicated Subsequent indigenous PHWR development has been based on these units.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of thermal nuclear power plants.

It has 14 small and one mid-sized nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, nine under construction - including two large ones and a fast breeder reactor, and more planned.

Rawatbhata-1 was down-rated early in its life and has operated very little since 2002 due to ongoing problems.

India's operating nuclear power reactors:
reactor type MWe net, each start
Tarapur 1 & 2 BWR 150 1969
Kaiga 1 & 2 PHWR 202 1999-00
Kakrapar 1 & 2 PHWR 202 1993-95
Kalpakkam 1 & 2 PHWR 155 1984-86
Narora 1 & 2 PHWR 202 1991-92
Rawatbhata 1 PHWR 90 1973
Rawatbhata 2 PHWR 187 1981
Rawatbhata 3 & 4 PHWR 202 1999-00
Tarapur 4 PHWR 490 2005
Total (15) 2993 MWe
Kalpakkam AKA Madras/MAPS
Rawatbhata AKA Rajasthan/RAPS
dates are for start of commercial operation.

The two Tarapur 150 MWe Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) built by GE on a turnkey contract before the advent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were originally 200 MWe but were derated due to recurrent problems and have run well since. They have been using imported enriched uranium and are under IAEA safeguards. However, late in 2004 Russia deferred to the Nuclear Suppliers' Group and declined to supply further uranium for them. They are undergoing six months refurbishment over 2005-06.
The two small Canadian (Candu) PHWRs at Rawatbhata started up in 1972 & 1980, and are also under safeguards.

The ten 220 MWe PHWRs (202 MWe net) were indigenously designed and constructed by NPCIL, based on Canadian design. Two are de-rated to 170 MWe gross.

In contrast to the situation in the 1990s, most reactors under construction are ahead of schedule, and the first two are being increased in capacity. These and future planned ones are 450 (now 490) MWe versions of the 202 MWe domestic products. Future units will be 700 MWe.

India's nuclear power reactors under construction:
reactor type MWe net, each start
Tarapur 3 PHWR 490 MWe 2007
Kaiga 3 & 4 PHWR 202 MWe 2007
Rawatbhata 5 & 6 PHWR 202 MWe 2007, 08
Kudankulam 1 & 2 PWR (VVER) 905 MWe 2007, 08
Kalpakkam PFBR FBR 470 MWe 2010
Total (8) 3128 MWe
Rawatbhata AKA Rajasthan/RAPS
dates are for start of commercial operation.

The first of the new series of 540 MWe (gross, 490 MWe net) nuclear reactors started up at Tarapur in March 2005, was connected to the grid in June and started commercial operation in September. The Tarapur 3&4 units are developed indigenously from the 220 MWe (gross) model PHWR, ten of which have been operating for up to 21 years. The Tarapur 3&4 units were built by NPCIL. Tarapur-4 criticality comes five years from pouring first concrete and seven months ahead of schedule. Its twin - unit 3 - is about 9 months behind.
Russia is supplying the country's first large nuclear power plant, comprising two VVER-1000 (V-392) reactors, under a Russian-financed US$ 3 billion contract. The units are being built by NPCIL and will be commissioned and operated by it under safeguards. Russia will supply all the enriched fuel, though India will reprocess it and keep the plutonium. The first unit is due to be commissioned late in 2007, after some delay due to corrosion in the steam generators which resulted in some tubes having to be plugged with a net loss of capacity of about 2%. All these are apart from India's 3-stage plan for nuclear power and are simply to increase generating capacity more rapidly.

Between 2010 and 2020, construction of four 220 MWe PHWRs, ten 700 MWe PHWRs three 500 MWe FBRs and up to six 1000 MWe VVERs is projected, giving about 20,000 MWe then, half from PHWRs. Some 300 MWe AHWR units may also be built in that time frame. The nuclear capacity target is part of national energy policy.

In 2005 four sites were approved for eight new reactors. Two of the sites - Kakrapar and Rawatbhata, are to have 700 MWe indigenous PHWR units, another is to have imported 1000 MWe light water reactors alongside the two being constructed by Russia at Kudankulam, and the fourth site is greenfield for 1000 MWe LWR units - Jaitapur in the Konkan region. Acquisition of any further light water reactors depends upon international political approvals.

As a result of its exclusion from the NPT, India's nuclear power program proceeds largely without fuel or technological assistance from other countries (but see later section). Its power reactors to the mid 1990s had some of the world's lowest capacity factors, reflecting the technical difficulties of the country's isolation, but rose impressively from 60% in 1995 to 85% in 2001-02.

Thorium cycle development

The long-term goal of India's nuclear program is to develop an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle. This first employs the PHWRs fuelled by natural uranium to produce plutonium.

Stage 2 uses fast neutron reactors burning the plutonium to breed U-233 from thorium, then in stage 3, Advanced Heavy Water Reactors (AHWRs) burn the U-233 with thorium, getting about two thirds of their power from the thorium.

In 2002 the regulatory authority issued approval to start construction of a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam and this is now under construction by BHAVINI. The unit is expected to be operating in 2010, fuelled with uranium-plutonium oxide (the reactor-grade Pu being from its existing PHWRs) and with a thorium blanket to breed fissile U-233. This will take India's ambitious thorium program to stage 2, and set the scene for eventual full utilisation of the country's abundant thorium to fuel reactors. Four more such fast reactors have been announced for construction by 2020.

Initial FBRs will be have mixed oxide fuel but these will be followed by metallic-fuelled ones to enable shorter doubling time.

Resources and Fuel Cycle

India's uranium resources are modest, with 54,000 tonnes U as reasonably assured resources and 23,500 tonnes as estimated additional resources in situ.

Mining and processing of uranium is carried out by Uranium Corporation of India, a DAE subsidiary, at Jaduguda and Bhatin (since 1967), Narwapahar (since 1995) and Turamdih (since 2002) - all in Jharkand near Calcutta. A common mill is located near Jaduguda. Two further mines and another mill at Domiasat are planned in the same state. In 2005 plans were announced to open further mines and mills in Jharkand at Bandurang, Bagjata and Moldih. Construction of a mill at Turamdih is under way.

However, India has reserves of 290,000 tonnes of thorium Ð about one quarter of the world total, and these are intended to fuel its nuclear power program longer-term.

The Nuclear Fuel Complex of DAE at Hyderabad undertakes refining and a conversion of uranium, which is received as magnesium diuranate (yellowcake) and refined. The main 400 t/yr plant fabricates PHWR fuel (which is unenriched). A small (25 t/yr) fabrication plant makes fuel for the Tarapur BWRs from imported enriched (2.66% U-235) uranium. Depleted uranium oxide fuel pellets (from reprocessed uranium) and thorium oxide pellets are also made for PHWR fuel bundles. Mixed carbide fuel for FBR was first fabricated at BARC in 1979.

Heavy water is supplied by DAE's Heavy Water Board, and the seven plants are working at capacity due to the current building program.

Used fuel from the civil PHWRs is reprocessed by BARC at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam to extract reactor-grade plutonium for use in the fast breeder reactors. The latter plant was commissioned in 1998 and is being extended to reporcess FBTR carbide fuel.

A PFBR fuel fabrication plant, reprocessing plant and waste management plant will be built at Kalpakkam and future FBRs will also have these facilities co-located.

Radioactive Waste Management

Radioactive wastes from the nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants are treated and stored at each site. Waste immobilisation plants are in operation at Tarapur and Trombay and another is being constructed at Kalpakkam. Research on final disposal of high-level and long-lived wastes in a geological repository is in progress at BARC.

Regulation and safety

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was established in 1948 under the Atomic Energy Act as a policy body. Then in 1954 the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was set up to encompass research, technology development and commercial reactor operation.

The DAE includes NPCIL, Uranium Corporation of India (mining and processing), Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (reactor control and instrumentation) and BHAVIN* (for setting up fast reactors). The government also controls the Heavy Water Board for production of heavy water and the Nuclear Fuel Complex for fuel and component manufacture,

* Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was formed in 1983 and comes under the AEC but is independent of DAE. It is responsible for regulation and licensing of all nuclear facilities, and their safety and carries authority conferred by the Atomic Energy Act for radiation safety and by the Factories Act for industrial safety in nuclear plants.

NPCIL is an active participant in WANO.


An early AEC decision was to set up the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay near Mumbai. A series of 'research' reactors and critical facilities was built here: APSARA (1 MW, 1956) was the first research reactor in Asia, Cirus (40 MW, 1960) and Dhruva (100 MW, 1985) followed it along with fuel cycle facilities. The Cirus and Dhruva units are assumed to be for military purposes, as is the plutonium plant commissioned in 1965.

BARC is also responsible for the transition to thorium-based systems and in particular is developing the 300 MWe AHWR as a technology demonstration project. This will be a vertical pressure tube design with heavy water moderator, boiling light water cooling with passive safety design and thorium-plutonium based fuel.

A series of three Purnima research reactors have explored the thorium cycle, the first (1971) running on plutonium fuel fabricated at BARC, the second and third (1984 & 1990) on U-233 fuel made from thorium - U-233 having been first separated in 1970.

Two civil research reactors at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam are preparing for stage 2 of the thorium cycle. The 40 MWt fast breeder test reactor (FBTR) has been operating since 1985, and has achieved 120,000 MWday/tonne burnup with its carbide fuel (70% PuC + 30% UC). It is based on the French Rapsodie FBR design. Also the tiny Kamini (Kalpakkam mini) is exploring the use of thorium as nuclear fuel, by breeding fissile U-233. BHAVINI is located here and draws upon the centre's expertise and that of NPCIL in establishing the fast reactor program.

As part of developing higher-burnup fuel for PHWRs mixed oxide (MOX) fuel is being used experimentally in them.

In 1998 a 500 keV accelerator was commissioned at BARC for research on accelerator-driven subcritical systems as an option for stage 3 of the thorium cycle.

The Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology was separated from BARC in 1989 and is responsible for radioisotope production. The research reactors APSARA, CIRUS and Dhruva are used, along with RAPS for cobalt-60.

Non-proliferation issues

India's nuclear industry is largely without IAEA safeguards, though four nuclear power plants (see above) are under facility-specific arrangements related to IndiaÕs INFCIRC/66 safeguards agreement with IAEA. The lack of full-scope IAEA safeguards however means that India is isolated from world trade by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.

However, India has been scrupulous in ensuring that its weapons material and technology are guarded against commercial or illicit export to other countries.

Following the 2005 agreement between US and Indian heads of state on nuclear energy cooperation, the UK indicated its strong support for greater cooperation and France then Canada then moved in the same direction. The US Department of Commerce, the UK and Canada have relaxed controls on export of technology to India, though staying within the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. The French government says it will seek a nuclear cooperation agreement, and Canada has agreed to "pursue further opportunities for the development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy" with India.

In Pakistan, nuclear power makes a small contribution to total energy production and requirements, supplying only 2.4% of the country's electricity. Total generating capacity is 19,540 MWe.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is responsible for all nuclear energy and research applications in the country.

It has one small (125 MWe) Canadian PHWR nuclear power reactor from 1971 which is under international safeguards - KANUPP near Karachi, and a 300 MWe Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) supplied by China's CNNC under safeguards, which started up in May 2000 - CHASNUPP-1 at Chasma in Punjab. . Construction of its twin, Chasma-2, started in December 2005. It is reported to cost PKR 51.46 billion (US$ 860 million, with $350 million of this financed by China). Grid connection expected in 2011. Enriched fuel for the PWRs is imported from China.

In 2005 an Energy Security Plan was adopted by the government, calling for a huge increase in generating capacity to more than 160,000 MWe by 2030. It includes plans for lifting nuclear capacity to 8400 MWe, 900 MWe of this by 2015. The government has announced plans to build two further Chinese reactors, of 600 MWe each.

Pakistan also has a 10 MW research reactor, Parr-1, of 1965 vintage operated by the Pakistan Institute of Technology. There are persistent reports of another "multipurpose" reactor, a 50 MW PHWR near Khushab which started up about 1998 and has obvious potential for producing weapons-grade plutonium.

A small (15,000 SWU/yr) uranium centrifuge enrichment plant at Kahuta has been operated by the PAEC since 1984 and does not have any apparent civil use. It is not under safeguards.

The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority is responsible for licensing and supervision, and in respect to Chashma it works closely with China's NNSA.

Pakistan is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but does have its main civil reactors under IAEA safeguards.

In 1974 India exploded a nuclear device and then in May 1998 it exploded up to five more. Pakistan then followed suit.
India has offered to accept international arrangements for limiting weapons proliferation but will not disarm and join the NPT, though Pakistan has offered to do so if India would.
In May 1998 India and Pakistan each exploded several nuclear devices underground. This heightened concerns regarding an arms race between them, with Pakistan involving China, an acknowledged nuclear weapons state.
India and Pakistan (with Israel) have been "threshold" countries in terms of the international non-proliferation regime, possessing, or quickly capable of assembling one or more nuclear weapons. Their nuclear weapons capability at the technological level was recognised (all have research reactors at least) along with their military ambitions, and all remained outside the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 186 nations have now signed. This led to their being largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, except for safety-related devices for a few safeguarded facilities.

Both countries are opposed to the NPT as it now stands, and India has consistently attacked the Treaty since its inception in 1970.

Relations between the two countries are tense and hostile, and the risks of nuclear conflict between them have long been considered quite high.

Kashmir is a prime cause of bilateral tension, its sovereignty being in dispute since 1948. There is persistent low level military conflict due to Pakistan backing a Muslim rebellion there.

Both engaged in a conventional arms race in the 1980s, including sophisticated technology and equipment capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In the 1990s the arms race quickened. In 1994 India reversed a four-year trend of reduced allocations for defence, and despite its much smaller economy, Pakistan pushed its own expenditures yet higher. Both have lost their patrons: India, the former USSR, and Pakistan, the United States.

But it is the growth and modernisation of China's nuclear arsenal and its assistance with Pakistan's nuclear power program and, reportedly, with missile technology, which exacerbate Indian concerns. In particular, China's People's Liberation Army operates somewhat autonomously within that country as an exporter of military material.


India's weapons material appears to come from a Canadian-designed 40 MWt Cirus "research" reactor which started up in 1960 (well before the NPT), and the 100 MWt Dhruva indigenous unit in operation since 1985, using local uranium. It is estimated that India may have built up enough weapons-grade plutonium for a hundred nuclear warheads.

India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 which it has consistently claimed was for peaceful purposes. Others saw it as a response to China's nuclear weapons capability. It was then universally perceived, notwithstanding official denials, to possess, or to be able to quickly assemble, nuclear weapons. In 1997 it deployed its own medium-range missile and is now developing a long-range missile capable of reaching targets in China's industrial heartland.

In 1995 the USA quietly intervened to head off a proposed nuclear test. The 1998 tests were unambiguously military, including one claimed to be of a sophisticated thermonuclear device, and their declared purpose is "to help in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields and different delivery systems".

Indian security policies are driven by:

its desire to be recognised as the dominant power in the region;
its increasing concern with China's expanding nuclear weapons and missile delivery programs; and
its deep concern about Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons capability and now the clear capability to deliver such weapons deep into India.
It perceives nuclear weapons as a cost-effective political counter to China's nuclear and conventional weaponry, and the effects of its nuclear weapons policy in provoking Pakistan is, by some accounts, considered incidental.
India has had an unhappy relationship with China. Soundly defeated by China in the 1962 war, relations were frozen until 1998. Since then a degree of high-level contact has been established and a few elementary confidence-building measures put in place. China still occupies some Indian territory. Its nuclear weapon and missile support for Pakistan however is currently a major bone of contention.


Pakistan's weapons technology is based on the production of highly enriched uranium suitable for nuclear weapons, utilising indigenous uranium. It has at least one small centrifuge enrichment plant. In 1990 the US Administration cut off aid because it was unable to certify that Pakistan was not pursuing a policy of manufacturing nuclear weapons though this was relaxed late in 2001. In 1996 USA froze export loans to China because it was allegedly supplying centrifuge enrichment technology to Pakistan.

Pakistan made it clear since early 1996 that if India staged a nuclear test, it had done the basic development work and would immediately start assembling its own nuclear explosive device. It is assumed to now have enough highly-enriched uranium for up to 40 nuclear warheads.

In April 1998 Pakistan test fired a long-range missile capable of reaching Madras in southern India, pushing home the point by naming it after a 12th Century Muslim conqueror. This development removed India's main military advantage over Pakistan.

Since then Pakistan has been exposed as having supplied sensitive nuclear technology, notably centrifuge enrichment designs and equipment, to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Its non-proliferation credentials therefore stand in stark contrast to India's.

Pakistan's security concerns derive from:

India's possession of a nuclear weapons capability,
its development of short and intermediate-range missiles and, since their partition in 1947,
its defeat by India in two of three wars, notably in East Bengal, now Bangladesh, in 1972.
Nuclear Arms Control in the Region

The public stance of the two states on non-proliferation differs markedly.

Pakistan has initiated a series of regional security proposals. It has repeatedly proposed a nuclear-free zone in South Asia and has proclaimed its willingness to engage in nuclear disarmament and to sign the NPT if India would do so. This would involve disarming and joining as non-weapon states. It has endorsed a US proposal for a regional five power conference to consider non-proliferation in South Asia

India has taken the view that solutions to regional security issues should be found at the international rather than the regional level, since its chief concern is with China. It therefore rejects Pakistan's proposals.

Instead, the 'Gandhi Plan', put forward in 1988, proposed the revision of the NPT, which it regards correctly as inherently discriminatory in favour of the nuclear-weapon States, and a timetable for complete nuclear weapons disarmament. It endorsed early proposals for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and for an international convention to ban the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes, known as the 'cut-off' convention.

The USA has, for some years pursued a variety of initiatives to persuade India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear weapons programs and to accept comprehensive international safeguards on all their nuclear activities. To this end the Clinton administration proposed a conference of nine states, comprising the five nuclear-weapon States, Japan, Germany, India and Pakistan.

This and previous similar proposals have been rejected by India, which countered with demands that other potential weapons states, such as Iran and North Korea, should be invited, and that regional limitations would only be acceptable if they were accepted equally by China. The USA would not accept the participation of Iran and North Korea and such initiatives lapsed.

Another, more recent approach, centres on the concept of containment, designed to 'cap' the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, which would hopefully be followed by 'roll back'. To this end India and the USA jointly sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 calling for negotiations for a 'cut-off' convention. Should India and Pakistan join such a convention, they would have to agree to halt the production of fissile materials for weapons and to accept international verification on their relevant nuclear facilities (enrichment and reprocessing). In short, their weapons programs would be thus 'capped'. It appeared that India was prepared to join negotiations regarding such a Cut-off Treaty under the UN Conference on Disarmament.

Bilateral confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan to reduce the prospects of confrontation have been limited. In 1990 each side ratified a treaty not to attack the other's nuclear installations, and at the end of 1991 they provided one another with a list showing the location of all their nuclear plants, even though the respective lists were regarded as not being wholly accurate. Early in 1994 India proposed a bilateral agreement for a 'no first use' of nuclear weapons and an extension of the 'no attack' treaty to cover civilian and industrial targets as well as nuclear installations.

Having promoted the CTBT since 1954, India dropped its support in 1995 and in 1996 attempted to block the Treaty. Following the 1998 tests the question has been reopened and both Pakistan and India have indicated their intention to sign the CTBT. Indian ratification may be conditional upon the five weapons states agreeing to specific reductions in nuclear arsenals.

I hope the recent deal with USA is used for a purposeful means and the energy generated is used for domestic purposes and for better development of life in a country which is tipped to be an economic superpower.

Being a democratic country it is tough to see a dictatorship in the country obviously due to the various segments and religious atmosphere. This somehow doesnt justify that dictatorship cannot be a probability but it can be less likely. It is a debate in itself if india, would use a nuclear weapon. From what i have read and understand the country wont use it first. Though it is not good enough. It has pretty much stuck with peace and has reacted when its lands were invaded, after its independence. Nuclear weapons use in any sceanrio is not good. Havnt we learnt from the Atomic Bomb in Niroshima and Nagasaki? I think the world leaders would be aware of it. I hope all this nuclear development is made for the good of mankind rather than for the destruction. Any thoughts????

[edit on 13-3-2006 by knowledge23]


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