Ras Koh Hills
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The Ras Koh Hills is a range of granite hills forming part of the Sulaiman Mountain Range in the Chagai District in Pakistan's Balochistan province. The word "Ras" means "gateway" and the word "Koh" means "mountain" in Urdu. Ras Koh, therefore, means "Gateway to the Mountains." Pakistan's first nuclear tests were carried out in the Ras Koh Hills on 28 May 1998.
The Ras Koh Hills are situated in the Chagai District of Pakistan's Balochistan province and lie to the south of the Chagai Hills and between the higher Sulaiman Mountains to the northeast and the lower Kirthar Mountains to the southwest.
Plateaus and basins predominate the Ras Koh Hills with an average elevation of 600 metres, but in areas, the hills can reach elevations up to 3,000 metres. The Ras Koh Hills composed of granite, are carved out by innumerable channels, but the arid climate restricts rain and for the most part leaves these channels dry. Although little water reaches the low-lying basins, numerous alluvial fans are found in the area.
A structural depression separates the Chagai Hills and the Ras Koh Hills, consisting of flood plains and areas covered with thin layers of salt.
Unlike the Toba Kakar Range to the northeast, which has scattered juniper, tamarisk and pistachio trees, the Ras Koh Hills are largely barren and devoid of vegetation. Most of people in the area, therefore, lead a nomadic life, raising camels, sheep and goats.
The Ras Koh Hills lie in an arid zone, which is outside the monsoon belt. The Ras Koh Hills receive scanty and irregular rainfall (an average of 4 inches annually). The temperature is extreme: very hot in summer and very cold in winter. The average minimum temperature is 2.4°C (36.3°F) in January and the average maximum temperature is 42.5°C (108.5°F) in July.
The history of Ras Koh Hills goes back to early 1972 when Pakistan, under the stewardship of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, began scientific research into a nuclear deterrent against the Indian nuclear programme. In 1976, PAEC began a survey to find the sites suitable for carrying out the nuclear tests. Scientists from PAEC selected unknown but multiple sites and the survey took one year to conduct and it was decided that the mountain should have the overburden of a 700m high mountain over it, making sufficient to withstand 20-40 Kilotons of nuclear force. The survey was submitted to Prime Minister Secretariat in 1977.
After Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reviewed the survey report, the prime minister summoned the Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq to take care of the matter. Brigadier-General Muhammad Sarfraz, who, in the interim, had been posted to GHQ Rawalpindi, was summoned by then-Chief of Army Staff, and was told that the PAEC wanted to lease him from the Army to carry out work related to the nuclear development. After Bhutto's removal in 1977, Major-General Zähid Ali Abkar founded the Special Development Works, led under Major-General M.J. O'Brian as its director-general and Brigaider-General Sarfraz as its deputy director. The primary task of the SDW was to build iron-steel underground tunnels (both horizontal and vertical) to withstand 20-40 kt of nuclear force, weapon-testing laboratories (WTL) inside the mountains.
Ras Koh Hills are the series of complicated high-altitude granite mountain range. The construction of the site was begun in 1979 and completed in 1980 under the supervision of Munir Ahmad Khan and then Member (Technical), PAEC, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, and Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan Province General Rahimuddin Khan. A 3,325 feet long tunnel was bored in the Ras Koh Hills which was 8–9 feet in diameter and was shaped like a fishhook for it to be self-sealing.
The nuclear test sites are covered with underground accommodations for troops and command, control and monitoring facilities. Several Cold fissiontests were performed in the Ras Koh Hills under the supervision of Mr. Hafeez Qureshi and Dr. Samar Mubarakmand during 1980s. However, in May 1998, Pakistan performed its sixth successful nuclear tests under the supervision of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand as the head of the testing team.