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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


India Nuclear Stockpile

New Delhi has never published a detailed account of its nuclear arsenal, which it first developed in 1974. According to informed sources, the nuclear warheads located at BARC facilities are under military security. By one estimate, India could have accumulated plutonium from the CIRUS and Dhruva reactors for about 133 weapons by 2000, with the rate of increase from these facilities of nearly 7 weapons annually. The increase by 2020 could amount to some 140 weapons, giving India a stockpile of nearly 275 weapons.

Adrian Levy reported in the Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine that India is building a “secret nuclear city” at Challakere in Karnataka state to produce thermonuclear weapons. It was expected to be completed by 2017, becoming the subcontinent’s largest complex of nuclear centrifuges. The report claimed that if the factory operated as expected, and even if some of the fuel was used in submarines, India could still have enough extra HEU to make 22 new H-bombs a year.

Two of the research reactors located at BARC in Trombay produce plutonium for nuclear weapons: the Canadian designed CIRUS 40 MW heavy water reactor (HWR) and the Dhruva 100 MW heavy water reactor of Indian design. These two reactors can provide India with perhaps 30 to 35 kilograms of plutonium each year. Depending on the sophistication of the weapon design, this might be sufficient for between four to eight nuclear weapons each year.

It was estimated in mid-1992 that India's stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium exceeded 300 kilograms; enough for forty or fifty atom bombs.

By mid-1998 India was generally estimated as having approximately 60 or 70 nuclear weapons. In 1998 India appeared to have stocks of highly enriched uranium and about 300 to 400 kg of reactor grade plutonium. In May 1998 G. Balachandran, an Indian nuclear researcher, estimated India had fewer than 10 weapons ready to be assembled and mounted on warplanes or missiles. The Institute for Science and International Security estimated in March 1998 that India had stockpiled enough weapons-grade plutonium for perhaps 78 bombs.

The Dhruva reactor was initially operational in 1985, and effectively since 1988-89. Dhruva has operated at an average capacity factor of 60 per cent, which means about 12 kg of plutonium per year from Dhruva. Over the first decade of its operation, assuming about 8 kg per bomb, it would have provided material for 15 bombs by 1999. Likewise, Cirus (which was the source of Pu-239 for the 1974 explosion), assuming an average capacity factor of 50 per cent, would yield 4 kg a year. From Pokhran-I in 1974 through 1998, it would have yielded plutonium for 15 to 16 bombs. Taken together, then, India by this estimate had plutonium stocks for about 30 bombs by 1999. [Nuclear and Missile Race in South Asia: Relevance of Military Restructuring By Dr. Vinay Kumar Malhotra]

Some sources estimated that by the year 2000, India's stockpile of weapons grade plutonium could rise to 450 kg. This plutonium stockpile was projected by the same conservative assumptions to reach a level equivalent to 85 to 90 weapons by the year 2000. By another estimate, India easily could have accumulated plutonium from the CIRUS and Dhruva reactors for about 133 weapons by 2000, with the rate of increase from these facilities of nearly 7 weapons annually. [MINIMUM NUCLEAR DETERRENCE POSTURES IN SOUTH ASIA: AN OVERVIEW OCTOBER 1, 2001 - DEFENSE THREAT REDUCTION AGENCY ADVANCED SYSTEMS AND CONCEPTS OFFICE, PREPARED BY: RODNEY W. JONES]

The Plutonium residing in safeguards-free spent fuel from Indian reactors that had not yet been separated as of 1995 could, if reprocessed, have yielded another 85 to 90 weapons by 2000 [though there is no direct indication that such reprocessing has taken place. In 1998 some estimates of India's stockpile that were as high as 200 nuclear devices were based on such estimates of the plutonium that could be extracted from India's six unsafeguarded heavy-water nuclear power plants.

In late 2003 one estimate suggested that India's nuclear stockpile was about 70 weapons, based on a stockpile of more than 300kg (660lb) of weapons-grade plutonium and a small quantity of high-enriched uranium. [SOURCE]

In 1994 K. Subrahmanyam suggested that a force of 60 warheads carried on 20 Agnis, 20 Prithvis and the rest on aircraft would cost about Rs 1,000 crore over 10 years. In 1996 Sundarji suggested a cost of some Rs 2,760 crore -- Rs 600 crore for 150 warheads, Rs 360 crore for 45 Prithvis and Rs 1,800 crore for 90 Agni missiles.

According to the 2015 SIPRI Yearbook, the Indian arsenal comprised 90 to 110 warheads. In 2015 the US Arms Control Association estimated that India had between 90-110 nuclear warheads. These estimates are essentially unchanged from those of a decade earlier, despite ongoing Indian production of fissile materials.

A report co-authored by David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said that India's fissile material production stock can make around 110-175 nuclear weapons, with a median of 138.

Adrian Levy reported in the Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine that India is building a “secret nuclear city” at Challakere in Karnataka state to produce thermonuclear weapons. It was expected to be completed by 2017, becoming the subcontinent’s largest complex of nuclear centrifuges. The report claimed that if the factory operated as expected, and even if some of the fuel was used in submarines, India could still have enough extra HEU to make 22 new H-bombs a year.

A 2017 report ‘Indian Nuclear Exceptionalism’ by the Harvard University Belfer Centre mentions that India has a fissile stock worth 2600 nuclear warheads. They also added that presently India is in the third position; Russia and United States are ahead of India. Previous year 4 Pakistani scholars had predicted India of having around 500 warheads. "... three parallel categoriesor “streams” of plants and facilities—“civilian safeguarded,” “civilianunsafeguarded” and “military” have emerged over the years.... The speci?cs and peculiar trajectory of India’s nuclear power expansion isalso provides it with the means and the justi?cation to establish the wherewithal and facilities for the stockpiling of large quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials. ... India has deliberately kept nearly all of its ?ssilematerial production facilities outside safeguards—allowing for the use ofthese materials and facilities for its nuclear weapons program at any time. This includes eight indigenous PHWRs; front-end fuel cycle and uraniumenrichment, plutonium, and heavy water production and reprocessing facilities; and all FBRs.... In its planning, Pakistan therefore has to consider India’s full potential tomake nuclear weapons, including both explicit military stocks and un-safeguarded civilian stocks... "??e widely quoted weapons equivalent estimates of 110-120 weapons areentirely based on weapons-grade plutonium. These estimates assumethat India’s production reactors were operating at much lower availabilityand capacity factors for several decades. Assuming higher availability andcapacity factors, and 4 kg plutonium per weapon, India’s weapons-gradeplutonium stockpiles — after excluding the plutonium consumed during thenuclear tests—should be su?cient to produce at least 148 to 198 weapons.... India’s ?ssile material stockpiles include approximately 13.5 to 18.4 tons of reactor-grade plutonium of which a large proportion is in power reactor spent fuel. The IPFM has, for the ?rst time in July 2016, included the 5.1± 0.4 tons of separated reactor-grade plutonium in India’s military plutonium stockpiles: "The heat generated by Pu-238 and Pu-240 complicates the use of reactor-grade plutonium in nuclear weapons, which necessitates adequate measures to manage the effects on the components and working of these weapons. In this context, the DOE maintains that there were “well-developed means for addressing these problems” that were not “considered a significant hurdle to the production of nuclear weapons” even for developing states or sub-national groups.... advanced nuclear weapon designs may require only 3 kg of weapons-grade plutonium, 5 kg of reactor-grade plutonium, and 15 kg of weapons-grade HEU." The Reactor Grade Pu inventory of 7 tons separated material and 11-14 tons of unseparated material are worth 1475 + 2750 weapons. India is assessed to have a weapons production capacity of 260 warheads/year.



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