India and Pakistan


In 1954, as part of an aid program to India, in 1954, the Government of Canada and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL, now Canadian Nuclear Laboratories) agreed to help India build a research reactor based on the NRX design at Chalk River. This assistance was provided as part of the Colombo Plan, a development program agreed to in 1950 by the Commonwealth foreign ministers to foster development and reduce poverty in southeast Asian nations. The research reactor was named CIRUS (Canadian India Reactor United States). The research reactor was built with the agreement that the heavy water and fuel for the reactor would be supplied by the United States. Before the reactor was constructed, India signed an agreement with the Government of Canada stating India would only use its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, a commitment it would later break. The CIRUS went online in 1960.

With aid from the Government of Canada, India also purchased a nuclear power plant from AECL and construction began in 1963. Located in Rajasthan province, the power plant was named RAPP-1, had a power output of 200 MW and was based on the same design as Canada’s first CANDU nuclear power plant at Douglas Point. The RAPP-1 power station was completed and began providing electrical power to India in 1972.


Construction was well underway on the RAPP-2 when in May 1974; India broke its agreement with Canada and tested a nuclear weapon using plutonium created in the CIRUS research reactor. Canada stopped work on the RAPP-2 power plant and ended its assistance to India. The world was outraged and Canada was heavily criticized for giving India the technology to develop nuclear weapons. However, the goal was to help India develop a peaceful use of atomic energy under civilian control. India would later build 16 more nuclear power plants based on the Canadian design. However, the two RAPP reactors supplied by Canada remained under site-specific safeguards.

In 1990, Canada was asked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to assist India with improving safety of the two RAPP reactors. This assistance was suspended in 1998 after India conducted a new series of atomic explosive tests.

India’s isolation from the world’s nuclear industries started to come to an end in 2006. During that year, the United States and India reached an agreement whereby 14 of India’s 22 nuclear reactors would be placed under permanent safeguard, and hence removed from the possibility of military use. In return, India would be permitted to trade in nuclear technology after negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and with the agreement of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The process of completing this agreement is ongoing at this time. Following the US initiative, other nations, including France and Russia have reached nuclear co-operation agreements with India.


By 1966, Pakistan already owned its own research nuclear reactor named PARR-1 which was built with assistance from the United States. Pakistan entered into an agreement with Canada to construct the 137-MW Karachi Nuclear Power Plant named KANUPP. Unlike the Indian purchase, the KANUPP reactor was designed and supplied by GE Canada. The KANUPP nuclear power plant was also to be based on NPD technology using Canadian expertise and financial support. Construction of the power plant began in August 1966. In 1971, civil war broke out between East Pakistan and West Pakistan and construction on the power plant was halted. India became involved in the war which eventually resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Political tensions exist between Pakistan and India to this day primarily concerning the disputed Kashmir area.

Karachi Nuclear Power Plant

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After the war, work on the KANUPP power plant resumed, and the reactor began supplying electrical power to Pakistan in October 1972. That same year, Pakistan, aware of India’s nuclear weapons program secretly embarked on a nuclear weapons program of its own. In 1976, Pakistan refused to enter into a non-proliferation agreement, and Canada withdrew its assistance and suspended uranium fuel shipments to Pakistan. However, the KANUPP reactor, like the two Indian reactors supplied by Canada, was also under site-specific safeguards. Pakistan has not been offered the nuclear cooperation that has been offered to India, because it is understood that Pakistan has supplied nuclear weapons technology to Iran and to North Korea.


Pakistan detonated an atomic explosion in 1998. To date, India and Pakistan have refused to sign the Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty, a treaty designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and promote the peaceful use of atomic energy. Other countries who also have not signed the Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty include Cuba, and Israel.

The KANUPP power plant was shut down for upgrades in 2002 and put back into operation in 2007 making it the oldest CANDU power plant still in operation.