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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear Weapons

India's pursuit of nuclear weapons was first spurred by a 1962 border clash with China and by Beijing's 1964 nuclear test. India made significant progress in refining its weapons design and fabrication capabilities, including reducing the size of weapons and increasing their efficiency and yield through boosted fission using tritium.

At a formal level, Indian officials and strategists denied that India possessed nuclear weapons and refered to India's position as an "options strategy," which essentially meant maintaining the nuclear weapons option and exercising it should regional and international conditions so warrant. In pursuit of this end, India refused to sign the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Indian officials argued that India's refusal to sign the treaty stemmed from its fundamentally discriminatory character; the treaty places restrictions on the nonnuclear weapons states but does little to curb the modernization and expansion of the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear weapons states.

India probably began work on a thermonuclear weapon prior to 1980. By 1989 it was publicly known that India was making efforts to isolate and purify the lithium-6 isotope, a key requirement in the production of a thermonuclear device.

The Modi Government

In his first policy speech to parliament in June 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to develop nuclear power projects for civilian purposes - an indication that nuclear energy will be a priority as India seeks to address its massive energy shortages. India decided to open its civilian nuclear facilities to greater oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The government decided to ratify the Additional Protocol to the India specific safeguards agreement. This was a key step toward boosting nuclear commerce with countries such as the United States and Japan.

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Page last modified: 15-07-2014 20:18:08 ZULU