India modernising atomic arsenal to target all of China from South bases: US experts

  • 'India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150–200 nuclear warheads'
  • India currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems

WASHINGTON – Two top American nuclear experts revealed India is modernising its atomic weapons with an aim to bring China within the range of its missiles.

Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris in an article titled “Indian nuclear forces 2017” published in the July-August issue of the digital journal, After Midnight wrote, “While India has traditionally been focused on deterring Pakistan, its nuclear modernization indicates that it is putting increased emphasis on its future strategic relationship with China.”

The article further said, “That adjustment will result in significantly new capabilities being deployed over the next decade that may influence how India views nuclear weapons’ role against Pakistan.”

The article also claimed that India was now developing a missile aiming at targeting all of China from its bases in South India.

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

It highlighted, “India continues to modernise its nuclear arsenal with the development of several new nuclear weapon systems. We estimate India currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and one sea-based ballistic missile”.

The two experts said that at least four more systems were in development. “The development program is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land- and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade,” the article said.

The article claimed, “India is also developing the Agni-4 missile, a two-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile with the capability to deliver a single nuclear warhead to 3,500-plus kilometers”.

It added, “Although the Agni-4 will be capable of striking targets in nearly all of China from northeastern India (including Beijing and Shanghai), India is also developing the longer-range Agni-5, a three-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile, near-intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a warhead more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100-plus miles). The extra range will allow the Indian military to establish Agni-5 bases in central and southern India, further away from China.”