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Satellite image of Kharan Desert
Country Pakistan
Test site Kharan Desert
Period 30 May 1998
Number of tests 1~2
Test type Underground tests
Device type Fission/Fusion
Max. yield 20 kilotons of TNT (84 TJ)[1][2]
Previous test Chagai-I

Chagai-II is the codename assigned to the second atomic test conducted by Pakistan, carried out on 30 May 1998 in the Kharan Desert in Balochistan Province of Pakistan.[3] Chagai-II took place two days after Pakistan's first successful test, Chagai-I, which was carried out on 28 May 1998 in the Ras Koh area in Chagai District, Balochistan, Pakistan.

The initial goals were to test the new designs of the weapon rather than studying the effects, and were different from the first tests in that they were primarily conducted by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), with the Pakistan Armed Forces engineering formations having only a supporting role.[4]

The tests detonated implosion-type boosted-fission military-grade plutonium devices, contrary to the Chagai-I tests that were weapons-grade uranium devices.[4] The performance of these tests made it a total of six tests performed by Pakistan in May 1998.[4]

Test preparations[edit]

Selection and planning[edit]

The Kharan Desert is a sandy and mountainous desert, with very high temperatures.[5] The region is characterized by very low rainfall, high summer temperature, high velocity winds, poor soils, very sparse vegetation and a low diversity of plant species; its average temperature are recorded 55 °C (131 °F) in summer and 2.5 °C (36.5 °F) in winter session (sources vary).[3][6][7][8]

Safety and security required an isolated, remote, and inhabitant area with extreme weather conditions to prevent any possible radioactive fallout.[9] For this purpose, a three-dimensional survey was commenced by nuclear physicist Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad assisted by seismologist Dr. Ahsan Mubarak; it received final approval from Munir Ahmad in 1976.[10] Unlike the granite mountains, the PAEC requirement was to find a suitable site in a desert region with almost no wildlife to prevent any kind of mutation, and to study blast effects of the weapons.[11]

The weapon-testing sites were suspected to be located at Kharan, in a desert valley between the Ras Koh region to the north and Siahan Range to the south.[12] Subsequently, the Chagai-Ras Koh-Kharan were cordoned off, becoming restricted entry zones closed to the public.[12]

According to the PAEC, the weapon-testing labs were deeply crafted, L-shaped horizontal tunnels.[13] A close depiction can be seen in diagram d, e, and f. The tests left a crater as its mark, similar to the illustration above, U.S. copyright.

After PAEC officials clearing with Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the preparations and logistics matters were given to the Pakistan Armed Forces.[10] A secretly coded telegram was sent from the Prime Minister's Secretariat to V Corps Brigadier Muhammad Sarfraz.[10] A helicopter, was arranged for the civilian scientists by Sarfraz.[10] In 1977, Sarfraz was dispatched to the Military Engineering Service to commission engineering formations of the Pakistan military by General Zia-ul-Haq, the Chief of Army Staff.[10] The PAEC officials readily agreed that the secondary tests would be scientific in nature with the armed forces playing the engineering roles.[10]

The Special Development Works (SDW), assisted by the Corps of Engineers, Pakistan Army Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (PEME), and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), spearheaded the engineering of the potential sites.[14] The military engineers were well aware of satellite detection, therefore the site at Kharan was constructed with extra cautions.[15] The SDW built around 24 cold test sites, 46 short tunnels, and 35 underground accommodations for troops and command, control and monitoring facilities.[16] The test site was 300 by 200 feet (91 by 61 m) and was L-shaped horizontal shafts.[17] Extensive installations of diagnostic cables, motion sensors, and monitoring stations were established inside the test site.[18] It took nearly 2–3 years for the SDW to prepare and preparations were completed in 1980, before Pakistan acquired the capability to physically develop an atomic bomb.[10]

After posting at the General Headquarters, Sarfraz transferred the work to Lieutenant-General Zahid Ali Akbar, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers.[19] The modernization of the tests labs were undertaken by the FWO; the FWO uncredited work in the construction of the weapon-testings labs in Kharan Desert, and had supervised the entire construction on the sites along with the SDW.[20]

Final preparations were overseen by then-Lieutenant-Colonel Zulfikar Ali Khan and PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad, assisted by Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, the Member (Technical) of PAEC.[12]

Test and blast yields[edit]

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) teams of scientists and engineers arrived at the site led by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, a nuclear physicist.[12] The tests were conducted on 30 May 30, 1998 at 13:10 hrs (1:10 p.m.) (PST).[12] The atomic bomb was small in size but very efficient and produced a very powerful shock wave and blast yield.[4][21][22]

The devices were boosted fission weapons using military-grade plutonium, yielding 60.1% of the first tests performed two days earlier.[4] The Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) calculated that the blast yield was 20 kt of TNT equivalent.[12] Although the American Physical Society estimated the yield at 8 kilotons of TNT (33 TJ) based on data received by their computer,[2][23][24][25] Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan confirmed the TPG blast calculations in an interview in 1998.[1][26]

A crater now takes the place of what used to be a small hillock in the rolling desert, marking the ground zero of the nuclear test.[10] The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (or PAEC) had tested one or more plutonium nuclear devices, and the results and data of the devices were successful as was expected by the Pakistan's mathematicians and seismologists.[10][27]

Test teams[edit]

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission[edit]

  • Samar Mubarakmand, Member (Technical) at PAEC.
  • Hafeez Qureshi, Directorate of Technical Development (DTD)
  • Irfan Burney, Director of Directorate of Technical Procurement (DTP).
  • Tariq Salija, Director of the Radiation and Istope Applications Division (RIAD).
  • Muhammad Jameel, Director of Directorate of Science and Engineering Services (DSES)
  • Muhammad Arshad, the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).
  • Asghar Qadir, Director, Theoretical Physics Group

Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Khan (2012, pp. 200–202)
  2. ^ a b Binnington Reed, Thomas (2009). The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation. Zenith Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0760335024.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Binnington_Reed" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Govt. of Balochistan, Pakistan. "District Profile: Kharan" (PDF). Govt. of Balochistan, Pakistan studies. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Mir, Hamid. "Interview with Samar Mubarakmand". PakDef, original aired on GEO TV in 2005. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  5. ^ FAS. "Kharan Desert". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Kharan documentary". Kharan documentary. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Pakistan 360. "Kharan Desert". Pakistan 360. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Mares (1999, pp. 301–302)
  9. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 20–21)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Azam, Rai Muhammad Saleh (June 2000). "When Mountains Move". Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam. Karachi, Pakistan: The Nation (1999) and Defence Journal (2000). p. 1. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Khan (2012, pp. 280–282)
  12. ^ a b c d e f Sublette, Carey (2 January 2002). "Historical Background:§Preparing to Build the Bomb". Nuclear Weapon Archive. Retrieved 2011. 
  13. ^ PAEC Govt. "The Weapon-Testing Laboratories: An illustration by PAEC.". Government of Pakistan release. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  14. ^ Khan (2012, pp. 183–184)
  15. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 25)
  16. ^ Khan (2012, pp. 184)
  17. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 24–25)
  18. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 26–27)
  19. ^ Rehman, Shahidur, Long Road to Chagai:§The nuclear development under Army: General Zahid Ali, Printwise Publications, Islamabad (1999)
  20. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 28–30)
  21. ^ Rehman (1999, pp. 30–31)
  22. ^ Khan (2012, pp. 185–186)
  23. ^ Pike (2004, pp. 22–24)
  24. ^ Reed (2009, pp. 250–255)
  25. ^ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc. p. 24. ISSN 0096-3402. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  26. ^ Khan, Kamran (30 May 1998). "Interview with Abdul Qadeer Khan". The News International (Islamabad). pp. 1–1. Retrieved 14 June 2015 – via 
  27. ^ "Nuclear Tests:§The Plutonium Device". Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Pakistan Atomic Scientists Foundation (PASF). 11 December 2002. Retrieved 2011. 
  • General (2010). Deserts of Pakistan : Cholistan Desert, Thar Desert, Kharan Desert, Thal Desert, Indus Valley Desert. Memphis, Tennessee: Books LLC. ISBN 1156257743. 
  • Khan, Feroz Hassan (2012). Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistan Atomic Bomb. Palo Alto, Calif, U.S.: Stanford University Press. p. 521. ISBN 0804784809. 
  • Shahid-ur-Rehman (1999). Long Road to Chagai. Islamabad: Printwise Publications. p. 160. ISBN 9789698500009. 
  • Pike, John (2004). Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc. p. 24. ISSN 0096-3402. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  • Reed, Thomas Binnington (2009). The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation. Zenith Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0760335024. 

External links[edit]