In an indication that the country continues to make efforts to grow its nuclear weapons programme, satellite imagery shows that Pakistan has expanded its nuclear facility at Dera Ghazi Khan in its Punjab province at a swift pace over the last nine months, reports The Print.
The expansion has taken place in the northern compound of this extremely secretive facility. Pakistan has previously maintained that the site, which is not covered under the safeguards of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is not operational, but the evidence continues to point in the opposite direction.
Moreover, the facility’s southern compound had also seen noticeable expansion in 2018, meaning that it has grown substantially as a whole in the last two years.
Commenting on the area where the site is located, defence expert Abhijit Iyer-Mitra writes that it is “in a high-terror zone and local politicians say it has been attacked by ‘freedom fighters’ in the past.”
Although the facility is located close to the Baghalchur mines where uranium ore is extracted, mining activity in the area does not seem to have grown in recent months. However, mining activity in the Barugh mountains in Balochistan, another source of uranium ore, has picked up since October 2019.
Connecting the two developments, at Dera Ghazi Khan and the Barugh mountains respectively, it can be reasonably assumed that the expanded nuclear facility at the former is the destination for increased raw material extracted from the latter.