Pakistan's nuclear programs began in 1965 with a 5 MW research reactor at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Technology (PINSTECH). Construction of this new research complex began in 1961. Designed by Edward D. Stone, the project won the 1966 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Professional Award for design excellence.
The Pakistan Institute of Science & Technology is responsible for fuel cycle R&D activities; including analytical chemistry, nuclear materials, metallurgy, fuel development, digital electronics, control instrumentation, and computational physics; basic research facilities are open to scientists/engineers from universities as well as research organizations.
The Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology uranium laboratories were focused in the mid-1970s on chemical processes and quality control procedures to fabricate uranium oxide pellets to be used to fuel the KANUPP reactor. Yellow cake has to be purified to reactor grade quality to remove trace impurities. A full scale refining plant was built for this purpose. And the refined uranium was fabricated into pure uranium oxide and pressed into small pellets which were sealed in zircaloy cladding tubes. PINSTECH developed techniques for producing high purity uranium from yellow cake, and converting it into oxide and pellets. PINSTECH facilities produced the uranium oxide, and developed the special welding techniques and other procedures required for large scale production operations. These uranium laboratories were later dismantled to make room for other facilities.
The PARR I and PARR II research reactors are covered by IAEA safeguards.
Pakistan's weapons program was initially focused on plutonium that would have been derived from reactor fuel from a 137 MW(e) power reactor at Chasma. However, in 1978 France cancelled an agreement to build a reprocessing plant. Around this time Pakistan began construction of a small reprocessing facility called the "New Labs" at the PINSTECH complex with illicitly acquired French and Belgian technology. Completed around 1982, this facility remained idle since completion as Pakistan lacked unsafeguarded spent fuel.Although the reactor at Khushab would be capable of producing 5 to 10 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium annually, the only known facility capable of processing the plutonium, located at PINSTECH, is too small to be able to handle such quantities of plutonium. As of early 1999 it was reported that the US government believed that Pakistan was taking steps to upgrade the PINSTECH facility. The equipment for the expansion, such as stainless steel piping, is dual-use and commonly used in commercial laboratories.