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"China’s Stockpile of Military Plutonium: A New Estimate"

The Jiuquan plutonium production reactor

"China’s Stockpile of Military Plutonium: A New Estimate"

Conference Paper

17-21 July 2011

Author: Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



Zhang argues that while China has kept information about its stocks of fissile materials and nuclear weapons secret, a great deal of new public information on the history of Chinese plutonium production has recently become available. His paper estimates China’s stockpile of plutonium for nuclear weapons by analyzing the new public information about the plutonium production at its two plutonium production complexes. Also, the history of plutonium production and the status of the production facilities are discussed. Zhang estimates that China currently has stockpiles of about 1.8±0.5 tons of plutonium available for weapons. The new estimated value is significantly lower than most previous independent estimates, which range from 2.1–6.6 tons of plutonium.


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For Academic Citation:

Zhang, Hui. "China’s Stockpile of Military Plutonium: A New Estimate." Paper presented at the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management 52nd Annual Meeting, Palm Spring, CA, 17-21 July 2011.

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