Lanzhou gaseous diffusion plant. Satellite image from 5 July 2004.
DigitalGlobe and Google Earth
"Reassessing China’s Military Inventory of Highly Enriched Uranium"
17-21 July 2011
Author: Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Understanding the size of China’s stocks of fissile materials is important to assess China’s willingness to join a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) and a multilateral nuclear disarmament. China has kept information about its stocks of fissile materials and nuclear weapons secret. The paper will assess China’s military inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU) by analyzing newly available information about China’s HEU production at its two gaseous diffusion plants. The history of China’s HEU production and the status of the production facilities are also discussed. The author concludes that China currently has stockpiles of about 16±4 tons of HEU available for weapons. This new estimated value is at the low end of most previous independent estimates, which range from 17–26 tons of HEU.
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