Journal Article - Science & Global Security
China's HEU and Plutonium Production and Stocks
This article discusses the history of China’s production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons and uses new public information to estimate the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium China produced at its two gaseous diffusion plants and two plutonium production complexes. The new estimates in this article are that China produced 20 +/- 4 tons of HEU, 2 +/- 0.5 tons of plutonium, and currently has stockpiles of about 16 +/- 4 tons of HEU and 1.8 +/- 0.5 tons of plutonium available for weapons. The values for China’s fissile material production are at the low end of most previous independent estimates, which range from 17–26 tons of highly enriched uranium and 2.1–6.6 tons of plutonium. These new estimates would be significant to assess China’s willingness to join a fissile material cutoff treaty and a multilateral nuclear disarmament.