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India modernising nuclear arsenal: US experts

Washington, July 14, 2017 (PPI-OT):Two top American nuclear experts have said that India continues to modernise its atomic arsenal with an eye on China and New Delhi’s nuclear strategy, which traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China.

An article published in the July-August issue of digital journal ‘After Midnight’ has also claimed that India is now developing a missile which can target all parts of China from its bases in South India.

India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150–200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 120–130, wrote Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris in the article – “Indian nuclear forces 2017”. India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China, the two experts claimed.

Noting that India continues to modernise its nuclear arsenal with development of several new nuclear weapon systems, the two experts estimate that New Delhi currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and one sea-based ballistic missile.

“At least four more systems are in development. The development programme is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land-based and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade,” they wrote.

India is estimated to have produced approximately 600 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium, sufficient for 150–200 nuclear warheads; however, not all the material has been converted into nuclear warheads, they said.

Based on available information about its nuclear-capable delivery force structure and strategy, we estimate that India has produced 120–130 nuclear warheads, the article said, adding that the country will need more warheads to arm the new missiles it is currently developing.

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