Estimation of Indian Nuclear Arsenal – Present and Future

June 23, 2012 2:02 pm 11 comments

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Estimation of the size of Indian nuclear arsenal is very difficult considering the secrecy that surrounds the program and information shared only on a need to know basis. The level of secrecy can be gauged from the fact that none of the service chiefs apart from the navy was in the know of the ATV project that materialized into the Arihant nuclear powered submarine.

I am trying to make an attempt to try to come to an estimation of what Indian nuclear arsenal may be right now and what it can be

in the near future considering all reports on indian nuclear and delivery platforms that is missiles.

I will first write about Indian nuclear weapons programs and its capabilities.

India surprised the world in 1974 with a nuclear test which was called as a test for peaceful purposes. The west cried foul as it’s claimed that India used plutonium from the Cirus reactor which was supplied by Canada for peaceful purpose. The Cirus reactor had the capability of producing about 10 kgs of weapons grade plutonium enough to make 2 nuclear bombs based on the technical capability of India at that time. This reactor was operational since 1960 and the plutonium separation was done at Trombay. However all this plutonium was restricted in use as per agreement with Canada about not diverting it for military application.

India in 1985 launched the 100 MW Dhruva reactor with a capability to produce about 25 kgs of weapons grade plutonium per year.India also started producing plutonium from its Tarapur plant which so far was only reprocessing fuel and also from the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam.

BARC in the 1980s bought large quantities of very pure beryllium from the international market. Beryllium is used to make nuclear weapons more lighter and also reduce the amount of fissile material usd like plutonium and uranium. This indicates an increase in level of sophistication in design and also machining capabilities, casting and forging as Beryllium is a very hard metal to work with.

India has also worked hard in making Highly Enriched Uranium since the 80s .HEU is used in thermonuclear primary. In 1985 India established the Rare Materials Plant near Mysore. This facility acquired gas centrifuges to enrich Uranium.

After initial troubles in designing and operating gas centrifuges, India has perfected the design of supercritical gas centrifuges. India as late as 2006-07 tendered components in what estimates to about 3000 gas centrifuges. Over the years India may have installed about 6000 supercritical gas centrifuges and about 2000 70s design centrifuges. This gives it capacity to produce about 20,000-30,000 of Separative Work Units (SWU) which is how the capacity of the centrifuges producing uranium enrichment is measured. Major portion of the uranium enriched here goes to the prototype naval reactor and also the reactor for the Arihant’s reactor.

The annual requirement for the prototype naval reactor as well as the Arihants reactor is about 15,000 SWU which leaves plenty to spare for using enriched uranium in making warheads in the future. The construction of the expanded facilities in Mysore was on as of last year to incorporate the fresh set of 3000 centrifuges that India has made.

As of 1999, some estimates were made about India,s Plutonium reserves which put it at 300-400 kgs of weapons grade plutonium, enough to make between 65-90 warheads. Since then India has continued to make more plutonium. This figure is only of known weapons grade production. Add to this is the safeguarded and unsafeguarded civilian reactors from which plutonium is extracted. By 1999, India had over 4100 kgs of fissile material from IAEA safeguarded reactors and over 3500 kgs from unsafeguarded reactors. This is good enough to make over 1000 fission bombs if weaponized.

As of 2004, the total weapons grade plutonium was about 500 kgs for about 110 warheads.

The above figures are considering usage of certain percentage of plutonium in civil nuclear reactors

The 2005 civil nuclear deal has allowed india to import fuel for its civil nuclear reactors. This frees up a fairly good amount of fissile material for use in warheads. As of 2011, it’s possible that India had roughly 700 kgs of weapons grade plutonium which can make about 150 warheads.
India has large amounts of reactor grade plutonium capable of making 2000 warheads if weaponized.

The above estimates are only for fission based nuclear weapons. The production of thermonuclear weapons is not known and continues to shroud in secrecy.

A fair indication of the size of current Indian nuclear stockpile can be derived from its weapons delivery platform.

India has a host of missiles as well as air assets of the air force to deliver nuclear weapons. The air force’s primary weapons delivery asset are the Mirage fighters.

India started the IGMP or integrated guided missile program in the 80s which delivered its first missile, Prithvi a short range ballistic missile.From the initial 150 kms range, it has not been tested to 300 kms. There are 100 missiles in the inventory as of now with the Army and Air Force . Though India says it’s a battlefield missile to deliver conventional munition, the missile is nuclear capable and can deliver nuclear payload.

Agni 1 was first test fired in 1989. the 700 kms range missile was a technology demonstrator and Pakistan centric.The testing was shelved under international pressure for some time. After the Kargil war, India began to test this missile again and was inducted in 2000. Bharat Dynamics manufactures this missile. A rough production rate is about 12-15 missile per year which could give India an inventory of about 100 missiles as of now. This is a single stage single warhead missile.

Agni II :- First tested in 1999, this missile forms the most credible deterrent right now against China. In 2002, Mr George Fernandes the then Defence Minister informed parliament that the Agni II has been inducted and taken into production at Bharat Dynamics Ltd at the production rate of 18 missiles per year. Even if there has been any shortfall in production with a lesser figure being 12 missiles per year, India could have at least 100 missiles at the lower end and at 18 missiles a year it could be as high as 160.

Agni III:- First tested in 2006, this missile failed. Further successful tests were conducted and as of 2011 this 4500 kms range missile has been inducted into the SFC. Till the Agni V becomes operational and in numbers, this missile will form the deterrent backbone of Indian nuclear posture against China. I am going to be conservative estimate of a production rate of 8-10 missiles a year. By 2015, we could have 40-50 Agni III and by 2020, we could have 80-100 missiles.

Agni !V:- Known as Agni Prime or Agni IIA earlier, this missile bridges the gap between Agni II and III. This 3500 km range missile was first tested in 2011. It comprises of advances made on the earlier generation of missiles and will probably replace the Agni II once it becomes operational. This missile will undergo trials over the next 2 years and induction could start in 2014-15 timeframe. As with Agni II, BDL could have a production rate of about 18 missiles a year and by 2020, we could have at least 75 missiles operational.

Agni V:- Recently test fired Agni V gives India intercontinental range and will form the credible deterrent that India is looking for against China in the future. This “over 5000”km range missile which I believe is actually an 8000 km range missile covers all of China including Beijing and Shanghai. This missile will feature MIRV for the first time in Indian missile program. Reports say that the warhead India has been able to miniaturize now weighs 400 kgs with a yieled of 250KT. The missile could be used in different configurations too with lower yield warheads weighing less and incorporating more warheads on this missile which has a total payload capacity of about 1.5.
Tons. The Agni V is will be tested at least 3 more times over the next two years and get inducted and go to the production line. I expect a production figure of 4-5 missiles per year. By 2020, we could have at least 20 of these missiles with at least 3 MIRVs which means there will be at least 60 warheads set aside for this missile.

We also have heard over the years of even more longer range missiles popularly touted as Surya with a range of about 12,000kms. But I will not get into that at the moment.

We will see submarine launched ballistic missiles being tested. the K15 a 700 kms range single payload missile and the K4 based on the Agni III which could be MIRVd with 3-5 warheads. this missile again could be tested in the near future with probable induction in the 2015 timeframe which will coincide with the full operationalization of the Arihant nuclear submarine. Each Arihant class submarine will carry 4 of these missiles. This will mean that once the entire induction process of the Arihant class is over by 2020, we could have 16 such missiles with 3-5 MIRVs each giving a total warhead count of 48-80. It is said that the next boat in this class could be bigger and maybe carry six launch tubes which will further increase the number of missiles and warheads India will possess under the sea forming a potent second strike capability.

To sum it all up, based on the induction rate of missiles over the next few years leading up to 2015 and 2020, I summarise below,

Time line     2010        2015             2020
Agni I:-          100         225                300
Agni II:-        100         160-235       may be replaced with Agni IV
Agni III:-                        40-50          80-100
Agni IV:-                                                75
Agni V:-                                                  20 with 3-5 MIRV
K4:-                                                          16 with 3-5 MIRV
K15:-                                                        50

Probable total nuclear arsenal by 2015 just based on the number of missiles could be a very high figure of about 400 warheads. This not considering Prithvi to be mated with nuclear warheads.

Some of these missiles will be routinely tested and their numbers will come down. Also considering that at least 30% of the missiles be taken out by an enemy first strike, i would say that by 2015 we could have a nuclear arsenal with as high as 300 warheads and by 2020 it could be as high as 500-600 considering the the number of missiles under development and production. This number may look on a very higher side, but considering the rapidly growing pakistani arsenal and the Chinese missile force, India may get aggressive in its nuclear posture including setting aside its current stated position of no first use.

The production capacity for both fission and fusion warheads is there as formulated earlier. There is already substantial plutonium reserves and the HEU production is being expanded rapidly. India may not reserve any thermonuclear weapons for Pakistan and use only fission devices. All the thermonuclear warheads will be set aside for China on MIRVd Agni V and K15.That would mean that by 2020, we could have as many as 200 thermonuclear weapons.

PS: The above is provided the government of the day recognizes the growing importance of India in the geo political arena and takes aggressive nuclear posture. Given the advances and expansion of the Chinese military, It may be possible that the official Chinese declaration that its arsenal is smallest among P5 may be misleading and not to be taken at face value.

Discussion on http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/strategic-forces/35184-estimation-indian-nuclear-arsenal-present-future.html

About Yusuf Unjhawala

Businessman by profession but always fascinated with defence and strategic affairs. Editor, India Defence Analysis. Admin, www.defenceforumindia.com/forum

11 Comments

  • DFI India Nukes Estimate – Comment
    While your article is an estimate of quantifiable current & future nukes only, it overlooks other parametric factors that need necessarily be “roped in” for a comprehensive estimate of nuclear arsenals (na)functionally factored to quality and hence of nuclear weapon(NW) programme as a whole. Here are few:
    1) It doesn’t make much sense if you don’t have a stockpile stewardship programme (SSP) simultaneously knitted to freshly fabricated na’s.

    a) An SSP can only be credibly charted out once you know exactly the life-time of each and every arsenal, the nuke-type (Pu or U based), nuc material decay, quality-life, current blast power hinged to destruction potentials. One needs to know exactly the decay time & time-gaps, 25 yrs, 50 yrs, 75 yrs. etc. The U.S. already has it, Russians and Chinese probably as well.

    b) An SSP-based financial plan will help the government to save much money and material. Whether partly decayed material can “somehow” ingeniously be re-enriched to save further money & time (or at least if they could be used as MOX-fuel for reactors), is left to our nuc experts to find out.

    c) An SSP plan will help the Govt. to decide on further mining from the total reserves we now have.

    d) The destruction potential can only calculated on the basis of Hiroshima & Nagasaki data, “fortunately” the only ones we have after 1945. Those weapons were presumably of the crude type unlike the present day ones made with the help of computer precision and computer simulations. Thus the destruction potential calculation that goes into the manufacture of weapons will be different. The U.S. is currently leading the P5 member club in keeping the number of NWs the same (for disarmament purposes of course, but out of distrust of Russians) but making them smarter by increasing the blast potential of each weapon. Cynically spoken, there is a certain degree of farce embedded in their logic of weapon reduction arithmetics.

    2) Extrapolation from present to future for nuke calculations and arsenal effectiveness will always be handicapped by “non-knowledge” of the enemies’ nuke developments. Perhaps, here to be on a safer mode it is better to apply Fuzzy Logic, as FL incorporates a parameter ‘I don’t know’ into the calculations of credibility and consistency, in addition to the other normal values of classical logic ( cf. Prof. Zadeh who introduced it in the estimation of nuclear safety of reactors for. e.g.).

    3) At some time in distant future the world hopefully will be saner and begin to dismantle NWs, thus the re-use of the weapon material should be considered, to pin them to our energy production. In view of our thorium-based future reactors the Pu weapon material could be gainfully used after dismantlement.

    George Chakko, Former UN-correspondent at the Vienna International Centre, now retiree in Vienna, 29. 10. 2012

  • its just waste of money , lot of people dying every day with hunger and these crazy people making bombs , isn’t it funny .

    • Yes Naveed. You’ve raised a moral point and I agree in principle.

      The matter, however, is not that simplistic. I quote a disarmament diplomat who once told me here in Vienna, “Those who got into this nuclear weapon game regret it deeply. Once got into it finds it very difficult to get out of it”.

      India’s case vindicates that. When the UPA govt. came in after BJP-led right-wing govt. left, someone asked a new cabinet minister his opinion on CTBT or India’s nuke. policy. He reportedly replied somewhat like this, “The previous govt. did us in. If we were in power. we wouldn’t have allowed the 1998 explosions. Now Pakistan also has bombs. So we can’t retreat”. There you are.

      My personal view is that it was foolishness architected by the Vajpayee-Advani leadership then. Out of a vanity-fed Nuclear Power prestige shine, India with its 1998 N-explosions, presented Pakistan a military parity on a silver plate, that Pakistan otherwise could have impossibly achieved at the conventional weapon level or war.

      It was strategic blunder, also in a military sense. The political leadership and possibly our military men at top as well, leave alone the public, vastly underestimated Pakistan’s response. Our nuclear scientists without long-term political vision or wisdom played along.

      Now look at the follow-up consequences. Pak with its substantial uranium reserves in Balochistan is almost outnumbering Indian nuclear weapons produced per annum. They get missile technology “free” in exchange for nuclear & space technology from North Koreans, of military use for Pak against India. Now they get world-cheap stealth fighter jets from China that can be fitted with small nuclear missiles in development. To top it all Pak has adopted Nuclear First Strike giving India a run for its money, meaning substantially enhanced defence budget for India. We have to ask ourselves, would all these have happened if India had not exploded at all in 1998 or later?

      It would have been a different story if India had exploded nuclear & thermonuclear tests in 1965 or latest 1966 after China exploded in 1964. It had a sound justification then esp. after India lost a war with China. In the midst of Cold war at its highest (the Cuban Missile Crisis & the Vietnam War raging high) the U. S. would have greeted such a development in India and Russia would have remained silent or neutral.

      No one even today knows at what horrendous economic costs the people of India & Pakistan have now come to bear as a result of both poor countries’ decision to go nuclear. Pakistan was even more foolish than India to follow India.

      Pl. wait till I come up with my analysis of that issue later this year perhaps, and shall ask DFI to republish it in their columns

      Kindly don’t miss reading Indian Nobel economist Amartya Sen’s new book “An Uncertain Glory” – India & its Contradictions, co-authored with Jean Dreze, wherein the authors mention 600 millions of Indians have no sanitary hole to defecate. If that be so, you may rightfully ask, what for these nuclear bombs, to wear a worthless cap -’Nuclear Power’? Are we any different in this respect from North Koreans?

      Our nuclear policy in a way is a shame by itself. With such unprecedented heavy investments into the nuclear industry since its inception, our nuke establishment today provides a trifling 2-3 per cent of our total power needs. Bravo!

      We Bharat Deshis happily prefer suffering a shameless, greedy, Prestige Shine Maya, instead of looking deep down to rock bottom realities in all honesty and solve problems from that level upwards.

      Alas! So goes India with its great culture and history!

      G. Chakko, Vienna, Aug. 15 2013

      • Mr G. Chakko,

        Your viewpoint on India’s nuclear option is misleading.

        Pakistan has benefitted from clandestine transfers of nuclear and missile technology much before 1998. India was at the short end with a need to develop its own. When you develop something, you need to test. There is no other way.

        There is no ‘shine’ or ‘ego’ here. This is pure necessity due to circumstances.

        I have no idea how many weapons Pakistan has or how fast it produces, I know for sure that India needs to develop its defensive as well offensive capability if its has to survive in a very bad neighborhood.

  • To Mr. Garg

    Thanks for your comment.

    You do seem to have got it wrong. You haven’t distinguished between India’s pre-1998 nuclear explosions’ nuclear options’ phase and India’s post-Pakistani nuke-explosions’ nuclear option re-definition phase & strategy. The logistic, military compulsions in the pre-May 1998 phase were different from what followed ex post facto the 1998 Pak explosions. The pre-phase was further preceded by a nuclear pacifism phase with pro-nuclear contenders like Drs. Bhabha, Sethna, Ramanna, Iyengar, Chidambaram & Co on the one side, opposed by pacifism-rinsed Govt. group headed by Mahatma Gandhi followers like Jawaharlalji, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Vikram Sarabhai as the lone scientist in the group, but not Mrs. Indira Gandhi .

    Like China went nuclear to counter an imperial U. S. might in the midst of Vietnam war, India too chose to go nuclear as a result of U. S. nuclear aircraft carrier “Enterprise” kicking around in sea near Dacca, a dangerous ‘bully’ show, in support of Pak military during Bangladesh war of 1971. Mrs. Gandhi learnt a harsh lesson then.

    India’s nuclear option, therefore, has undergone 3 different phases. In 2013 we are compelled by the strategic logic situation, going for the “Triad” and perennially forced to perfect and modernise nuclear weapons at high costs, wasting immense resources in due course in both countries, money much needed for development and minimum survival needs of the poor 400-600 millions in India alone. We have to ask ourselves in all honesty – Would these have happened if we had not exploded in 1998?

    A weapon becomes a nuclear arsenal only if it is tested. We gave Pakistan the chance, motivated it to test and declare itself a nuclear-weapon power with just 2 successful explosions (the other 4 claimed are failures as much as India’s thermo-nuclear, say international experts). If Pakistan had tested without a prior 1998 Indian nuclear test, then successive Indian nuclear tests would have stood justified. But it didn’t happen that way. Had India not tested, Pakistan would have remained just a military power only; it could not have fabricated those near-to 100 “Islamic”nuclear nuclear weapons they have now (more than India said one assessment report), a dangerous nuisance value for India, straining its defence budget heavily; not the silent, financial help it gets from fellow-Islamic nations and China; and never the danger of these weapons getting into Jihadists’ hands or say an extreme L-e-t-led Islamic right-wing govt. in power in Islamabad !.

    The Pak military had long waited for one such ‘golden’ chance and India foolishly donated it. It was a bygone accepted fact by then in 1998 that Pak had amassed enough know-how to make nuclear bombs. Hence India exploding to test its own potential, or wanting to counter Pak nuclear strength, was done at a wrong time in 1998. It was a grave blunder awarding enemy a military parity. The right time for that option was the immediate years following 1964 Chinese explosion. Homi Bhabha & his young smart team would have managed it well then, including the thermonuclear.

    Nevertheless, I end with a cautious note. Ultimately, history can only judge, whether India was right, or absolutely wrong, with her 1998 tests. One fact remains certain. India has lost its moral cap since May 1998 and has gone down in the estimate of neutral and non-aligned countries in moral leadership. We’ve become one among the very predatory wolves we were pointing our fingers at.

    G. Chakko, Vienna, 26. August, 2013.

    • Mr Chakko,

      You are not getting my simple point. Pakistan had powerful nations like USA and China on its side. Who is on India’s side? India has to develop its own capability.

      Bringing poverty in this discussion is the silliest thing you have done. By your logic, India should not spend a single rupee on defence as it has not managed to bring hunger to zero.

      There is no “moral cap” or “moral leadership”. These are empty words. Nobody gives any weight to such words in realpolitik.

      The simple fact is that Pakistan was an undeclared nuclear nation before 1998. This was a very risky situation for India, as India did not have the benefit of a nuclear “friend” transferring its weapons.

      This talk about “Islamic bomb” is bullshit. You can say anything to justify your argument.

      • When someone says “You can say anything to justify your argumentation”, to imply ‘I will not take it’, then that person forbids himself the need to examine or counter arguments rationally. Subjective precast prejudices do not belong to a rational discourse.

        Your info deficit is such that you are ignorant of how much propaganda Pakistan has made out of the fact that it is the first Muslim nation to possess a nuclear bomb, in inner-Islamic nations’ diplomacy, esp. in the Middle-East countries. The first person in my knowledge to use the expression ‘Islamic bomb’ was a prolific rebel Pakistani writer and intellectual – Tariq Ali, (currently British-domiciled) an internationally well-respected commentator, who wrote a column with that title soon after the 1998 blasts. The adjectival use both by him and me is satirical.

        India’s arguments till 1998 in all international fora, be it on NPT or CTBT, were indisputably based on moral principles, on the discriminatory nature of these treaties, and India was highly respected for that, at least among the non-aligned and neutral nations of the world. Since 1998, no more, because we are part of the very group we were accusing of, hence a 180 degrees turn.

        In what way is ‘realpolitik’ of such pristine priority for you at the cost of moral principles? Swallowing a German word that easily is not a virtue. Is mutually assured destruction (MAD), as practised by the U. S., Russia and China, a better proposition for India and Pakistan to live in peace? Don’t forget what Gorbachev told Ron Reagan at the Reykjavik summit in October 1986, pointing his finger to a world war I rifle hanging on the wall, “As long as a rifle hangs on the wall, there will be a temptation to use it”, meaning, no such danger ever, if the rifle is removed or not there, an argument that had a an impact on Reagan. A positive outcome of that meeting was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the then Soviet Union and United States in 1987 and the end of Cold War.

        Nobody questions the tough ensuing reality for India, having sparked this nuclear race with Pakistan, to strictly abide by military logistics and rules, meaning military build-up. But we could have avoided that. You don’t want to face up to the fact that we have literally and foolishly donated Pak a public military parity to Pak’s advantage. So what, if Pakistan had amassed the bomb know-how prior to May 1998? You believe India would have been overrun. You think non-nuclear, neutral European nations don’t have that knowhow. Ask, Switzerland, Sweden or any advanced, non-nuclear weapon, neutral nations that have centrifugal enrichment know-how. They can in principle fabricate a nuclear bomb probably in 2 weeks, if you give them an order. But they chose the non-nuclear path in not fabricating them. Neutral nations don’t enjoy the nuclear shield either, as much as India. Possession of nuclear weaponry does not promote peace, on the contrary, it enhances mutual destruction in several digit millions of innocent citizens. What’s the use of a second strike if 3 digit millions of your people are already dead? Is that the peace that you wanted with your nuclear armament? I prefer non-nuclear weapon status than a no-first use nuclear deterrence that cannot prevent a nuclear offence by a sworn enemy.

        Once you have got into the nuclear weapon game then turning or stepping back becomes near-to impossible. That entails substantial cuts in your national resources year after year (as according to new advances in the world weapon industry that make old versions junk), money that otherwise could have gone into our other basic development needs. This spiral will continue and we are trapped in becoming the victims of worldwide armament industry.

        I did not say you should not invest in your defence unless poverty is reduced to zero. That’s your illegitimate sweeping composition.

        India’s real strength will lay not in nuclear weapons as such, but more in the truths spoken of in Upanishads. Read Isa Upanishad, verses 5 to 7.

        I shall not spend further precious time in response to you. I smell inappropriateness in your language. You haven’t evolved enough. Sorry!

        G. Chakko, Vienna, September 4, 2013.

  • When someone says “You can say anything to justify your argumentation”, to imply ‘I will not take it’, then that person forbids himself the need to examine or counter arguments rationally. Subjective precast prejudices do not belong to a rational discourse.

    Your info deficit is such that you are ignorant of how much propaganda Pakistan has made out of the fact that it is the first Muslim nation to possess a nuclear bomb, in inner-Islamic nations’ diplomacy, esp. in the Middle-East countries. The first person in my knowledge to use the expression ‘Islamic bomb’ was a prolific rebel Pakistani writer and intellectual – Tariq Ali, (currently British-domiciled) an internationally well-respected commentator, who wrote a column with that title soon after the 1998 blasts. The adjectival use both by him and me is satirical.

    India’s arguments till 1998 in all international fora, be it on NPT or CTBT, were indisputably based on moral principles, on the discriminatory nature of these treaties, and India was highly respected for that, at least among the non-aligned and neutral nations of the world. Since 1998, no more, because we are part of the very group we were accusing of, hence a 180 degrees turn.

    In what way is ‘realpolitik’ of such pristine priority for you at the cost of moral principles? Swallowing a German word that easily is not a virtue. Is mutually assured destruction (MAD), as practised by the U. S., Russia and China, a better proposition for India and Pakistan to live in peace? Don’t forget what Gorbachev told Ron Reagan at the Reykjavik summit in October 1986, pointing his finger to a world war I rifle hanging on the wall, “As long as a rifle hangs on the wall, there will be a temptation to use it”, meaning, no such danger ever, if the rifle is removed or not there, an argument that had a an impact on Reagan. A positive outcome of that meeting was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the then Soviet Union and United States in 1987 and the end of Cold War.

    Nobody questions the tough ensuing reality for India, having sparked this nuclear race with Pakistan, to strictly abide by military logistics and rules, meaning military build-up. But we could have avoided that. You don’t want to face up to the fact that we have literally and foolishly donated Pak a public military parity to Pak’s advantage. So what, if Pakistan had amassed the bomb know-how prior to May 1998? You believe India would have been overrun. You think non-nuclear, neutral European nations don’t have that knowhow. Ask, Switzerland, Sweden or any advanced, non-nuclear weapon, neutral nations that have centrifugal enrichment know-how. They can in principle fabricate a nuclear bomb probably in 2 weeks, if you give them an order. But they chose the non-nuclear path in not fabricating them. Neutral nations don’t enjoy the nuclear shield either, as much as India. Possession of nuclear weaponry does not promote peace, on the contrary, it enhances mutual destruction in several digit millions of innocent citizens. What’s the use of a second strike if 3 digit millions of your people are already dead? Is that the peace that you wanted with your nuclear armament? I prefer non-nuclear weapon status than a no-first use nuclear deterrence that cannot prevent a nuclear offence by a sworn enemy.

    Once you have got into the nuclear weapon game then turning or stepping back becomes near-to impossible. That entails substantial cuts in your national resources year after year (as according to new advances in the world weapon industry that make old versions junk), money that otherwise could have gone into our other basic development needs. This spiral will continue and we are trapped in becoming the victims of worldwide armament industry.

    I did not say you should not invest in your defence unless poverty is reduced to zero. That’s your illegitimate sweeping composition.

    India’s real strength will lay not in nuclear weapons as such, but more in the truths spoken of in Upanishads. Read Isa Upanishad, verses 5 to 7.

    I shall not spend further precious time in response to you. I smell inappropriateness in your language. You haven’t evolved enough. Sorry!

    G. Chakko, Vienna, September 4, 2013.

  • After going thru Mr Chacko’s comment that India was responsible for Pakistan to develop their nuclear arsenal sounds a little more absurd.We all know, human memory is short and it is only the records which speak for the times gone by. China first exploded a nuclear device in 1964 with the active participation and assistance of the Soviets. Prior to this the Chinese had attacked India without any provocation 1962. In the case of Pakistan they were presented’nuclear technology’ as a gift for opening the international doors for China-Henry Kissinger trip over the Karakoram mountains,That was in early 1972(Bhutto era) and Pakistan had already positioned their personnel in Chinese institutions for studying and research in nuclear technology- for weapons and NOT peaceful energy or medical purposes.The world is dumb on this count so are most of the Indians. The moment Indira Gandhi got a whiff of this thru the KGB/RA&W she took to the old trick of making two killings with a single stone known as the “smiling Budha” which could ease her political suffocation then existing.So it is relevant that the real reason for India developing the nuclear weapons are as an reaction to both the Pakistan-Chinese Axis then prevailing.In other words India was forced into this expensive race not of their own making.If it was Nehru then things would have been different as India would have lost the initiative and would be pleading for peace incoherently as we did during the Panchsheel times till date.

    • To Mr.B.U.Subash

      I noticed that we have drifted far away from the ‘Estimate of the Indian Nuclear Arsenals’ to the ‘Politics & history of the Indian Nuclear Arsenals’ in our discussion. I think we should put a stop here. The latter is a theme we can all write books about and the matter will not end to everyone’s satisfaction.

      You cannot deny or hoodwink the fact that, we, with our 1998 explosions, gave Pakistan a legitimacy to test their till-then untested nuclear weapon, and with 2 such successful tests, officially gain the stamp of a nuclear power, which in turn served to legitimise their nuclear weapons’ build-up, which reportedly outnumbers ours at present (thanks to its vast uranium resources in Balochistan). Whether Pak got help from China or stole from Belgium and Holland the technology or from Timbuktu, is immaterial. We have to ask ourselves honestly – would these developments have taken place if we had not exploded in 1998? We donated Pak the chance to test, and hence a military parity after Pak’s declared first-use, annulling our conventional weapon superiority. Pak claims there will be no more war with India, because it can use nuclear weapons should Pakistan lose war at the conventional level, and thus its existence. Now we are “forced” to negotiate with a weak, conventionally armed Pakistan as our own equal, like what Russia and America do, due to the equality or near-to equality of nuclear weapons’ numbers on both sides, irrespective of quality.

      Let me end this discussion from my side on a national self-critical note. Very often in viewing India’s global political stands or stature, and our nuclear weapon policy is definitely one of them, we often tend to fault outsiders to automatically blind ourselves in not self-critically seeing our own mistakes in defective perceptions, or blunders emerging therefrom. This will not serve ultimately our national interests. Seeing one’s own errors and weaknesses is the first step towards gaining strength.
      G. Chakko, Vienna, September 5, 2013.

  • in 1998 when india tested nuclear weapons, Pakistan followed with it with in less than three weeks. That indicates it had the weapons ready for testing and so test site setup. India’s testing only bring the Pakistan in to open. It was building weapons using China’s blue print. Every one new that including USA.

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