India and weapons of mass destruction

India and weapons of mass destruction
Location of India
Nuclear program start date 1967
First nuclear weapon test 18 May 1974 (Smiling Buddha)
First fusion weapon test 11 May 1998 (declared)
Last nuclear test 13 May 1998
Largest yield test 20-60 kt total in Pokhran-II (yield is disputed)[1]
Total tests 6
Peak stockpile 80–100(2011 est.)[2]
Current stockpile 80–100(2011 est.)[2]
Maximum missile range <2500 km (Agni II)
NPT signatory No
Nuclear weapons
Fat man.jpg

Arms race
Anti-nuclear opposition

Nuclear-armed states

United States · Russia
United Kingdom · France
China · India · Israel
Pakistan · North Korea
South Africa (former)

v · d · e

India possesses nuclear weapons and maintains short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, nuclear-capable aircraft, surface ships, and submarines under development as possible delivery systems and platforms. Although it lacks an operational ballistic missile submarine, India has ambitions of possessing a nuclear triad in the near future when INS Arihant the lead ship of India's Arihant class of nuclear-powered submarines formally joins the Indian Navy in 2012 after undergoing extensive sea-trials. Though India has not made any official statements about the size of its nuclear arsenal, recent estimates suggest that India has between 80 and 100 nuclear weapons,[2] consistent with earlier estimates that it had produced enough weapons-grade plutonium for up to 75–110 nuclear weapons.[3] Production of weapons-grade plutonium is believed to be taking place at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, which is home to the CIRUS reactor, acquired from Canada and shut down in 2010, to the indigenous Dhruva reactor, and to a plutonium separation facility.[4]

India is not a signatory to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India argues entrenches the status quo of the existing nuclear weapons states whilst preventing general nuclear disarmament.[5] India tested a nuclear device in 1974 (code-named "Smiling Buddha"), which it called a "peaceful nuclear explosion." The test used plutonium produced in the Canadian-supplied CIRUS reactor, and raised concerns that nuclear technology supplied for peaceful purposes could be diverted to weapons purposes. This also stimulated the early work of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.[6] India performed further nuclear tests in 1998 (code-named "Operation Shakti").

India has signed and ratified both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.


Brief historical overview

As early as 26 June 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru, soon to be India's first Prime Minister, announced:

As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection. I have no doubt India will develop her scientific researches and I hope Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive purposes. But if India is threatened, she will inevitably try to defend herself by all means at her disposal.[7]

India's first nuclear test occurred on 18 May 1974.[8] Since then India has conducted another series of tests at the Pokhran test range in the state of Rajasthan in 1998. India has an extensive civil and military nuclear program, which includes at least 10 nuclear reactors, uranium mining and milling sites, heavy water production facilities, a uranium enrichment plant, fuel fabrication facilities, and extensive nuclear research capabilities.

In 1998, as a response to the continuing tests, the United States and Japan imposed temporary economic sanctions on India.

Current arsenal and estimates of inventory

  • In 2005, it was estimated that India had between 40 and 50 warheads.[9]
  • A report by David Albright, published by the Institute for Science and International Security in 2000, estimated that India at end of 1999 had 310 kilograms of weapon grade plutonium, enough for 65 nuclear weapons. He also estimated that India had 4,200 kg of reactor grade plutonium which is enough to build 1,000 nuclear weapons.[11][12] By the end of 2004, he estimates India had 445 kilograms of weapon grade plutonium which is enough for around 85 nuclear weapons considering 5 kg of plutonium required for each weapon.[13]
  • Former R&AW official J.K. Sinha, claimed that India is capable of producing 130 kilograms of weapon grade plutonium per year from six "unsafeguarded" reactors not included in the nuclear deal between India and the United States.[15]


India has a declared nuclear no-first-use policy and is in the process of developing a nuclear doctrine based on "credible minimum deterrence." In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine[16][dead link] which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of "retaliation only". The document also maintains that India "will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail" and that decisions to authorize the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his 'designated successor(s).'"[16]

According to the NRDC, despite the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan in 2001-2002, India remains committed to its nuclear no-first-use policy.

Indian National Security Advisor Shri Shiv Shankar Menon signaled a significant shift from "No first use" to "no first use against non-nuclear weapon states" in a speech on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebrations of National Defence College in New Delhi on October 21, 2010, a doctrine Menon said reflected India's "strategic culture, with its emphasis on minimal deterrence."[17][18]

Command and control

India's Strategic Nuclear Command was formally established in 2003, with an Air Force officer, Air Marshal Asthana, as the Commander-in-Chief. The joint services SNC is the custodian of all of India's nuclear weapons, missiles and assets. It is also responsible for executing all aspects of India's nuclear policy. However, the civil leadership, in the form of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) is the only body authorized to order a nuclear strike against another offending strike: In effect, it is the Prime Minister who has his finger "on the button."

International treaties

India is not a signatory to either the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), but did accede to the Partial Test Ban Treaty in October 1963. India is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and four of its 17 nuclear reactors are subject to IAEA safeguards.

India announced its lack of intention to accede to the NPT as late as 1997 by voting against the paragraph of a General Assembly Resolution[19] which urged all non-signatories of the treaty to accede to it at the earliest possible date.[20]

Thermonuclear device used in the Pokhran Test

India voted against the UN General Assembly resolution endorsing the CTBT, which was adopted on 10 September 1996. India objected to the lack of provision for universal nuclear disarmament "within a time-bound framework." India also demanded that the treaty ban laboratory simulations. In addition, India opposed the provision in Article XIV of the CTBT that requires India's ratification for the treaty to enter into force, which India argued was a violation of its sovereign right to choose whether it would sign the treaty. In early February 1997, Foreign Minister I.K.Gujral reiterated India's opposition to the treaty, saying that "India favors any step aimed at destroying nuclear weapons, but considers that the treaty in its current form is not comprehensive and bans only certain types of tests."

In August 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved safeguards agreement with India under which the former will gradually gain access to India's civilian nuclear reactors.[21] In September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group granted India a waiver allowing it to access civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries.[22] The implementation of this waiver makes India the only known country with nuclear weapons which is not a party to the NPT but is still allowed to carry out nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.[23]

Since the implementation of NSG waiver, India has signed nuclear deals with several countries including France,[24] United States,[25] Mongolia, Namibia,[26] and Kazakhstan[27] while the framework for similar deals with Canada and United Kingdom are also being prepared.[28][29]

Delivery systems

Below is the list of missiles currently in India's inventory or under development that can carry Nuclear Warheads. Information on the missiles is given below.

Agni II was India's first long range missile
Agni missile range.
India's nuclear capable missiles
Name Class Range Payload Status
Agni-I SRBM 700 km 1,000 kg Operational
Agni-II MRBM 2,000 km - 3,000 km 500 kg - 1,000 kg Operational
Agni-III IRBM 3,500 km 2,490 kg Inducted
Agni-IV MRBM 2,750 km - 3,000 km 500 kg - 1,500 kg Inducted
Agni-V ICBM 5,000 km - 6,000 km 3,000 kg+ Under development
Surya-I ICBM 5,200 km - 11,600 km 700 kg - 1,400 kg Under development
Dhanush SRBM 350 km 500 kg Developed but not used
Nirbhay Subsonic Cruise Missile 1,000 km  ? Under development
Brahmos Supersonic Cruise Missile 290 km 300 kg Operational
P-70 Ametist Anti-shipping Missile 65 km 530 kg Operational
P-270 Moskit Supersonic Cruise Missile 120 km 320 kg Operational
Popeye ASM 78 km 340 kg Operational
Prithvi-I SRBM 150 km 1000 kg Operational
Prithvi-II SRBM 250 km 500 kg Operational
Prithvi-III SRBM 350 km 500 kg Operational
Sagarika (missile) SLBM 700 km - 2,200 km 150 kg - 1000 kg Awaiting Arihant SSBN's
Shaurya TBM 700 km - 2,200 km 150 kg - 1,000 kg Operational

Ballistic missiles

Prithvi I


Under former president Dr. Abdul Kalam India pursued the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) which was an Indian Ministry of Defense program for the development of a comprehensive range of missiles, including the intermediate range Agni missile (Surface to Surface), and short range missiles such as the Prithvi ballistic missile (Surface to Surface), Akash missile (Surface to Air), Trishul missile (Surface to Air) and Nag Missile (Anti Tank). Other projects such Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program have derived from the IGMDP. In 2005, India became only the fourth country to have Anti Ballistic capability when India tested two systems the AAD and PAD.[30]

India has methodically built an indigenous missile production capability, using its commercial space-launch program to develop the skills and infrastructure needed to support an offensive ballistic missile program. For example, during the 1980s, India conducted a series of space launches using the solid-fueled SLV-3 booster. Most of these launches put light satellites into near-earth orbit. Elements of the SLV-3 were subsequently incorporated into two new programs. In the first, the new polar-space launch vehicle (PSLV) was equipped with six SLV-3 motors strapped to the PSLV's first stage. The Agni IRBM technology demonstrator uses the SLV-3 booster as its first stage.


The Prithvi (Sanskrit: "Earth") I is mobile liquid-fueled 150 kilometer tactical missile currently deployed with army units. It is claimed that this missile is equipped only with various conventional warheads (which stay attached to the missile over the entire flight path). The missile is of particular interest to the United States (and potential buyers) in that has the capability of maneuvering in flight so as to follow one of several different pre-programmed trajectories. Based on the same design, a modified Prithvi, the Prithvi II, is essentially a longer-ranged version of the Prithvi I except that it has a 250-kilometer range and a lighter payload. It is suspected that any nuclear missions will be executed by the Prithvi II. Currently, the Prithvi II has completed development and is now in production. When fielded, it will be deployed with air force units for the purpose of deep target attacking maneuvers against objectives such as air fields.

  • Prithvi I — Army Version (150 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg)
  • Prithvi II — Air Force Version (250 km range with a payload of 500 kg)
  • Prithvi III — Naval Version (350 km range with a payload of 500 kg)

The Prithvi missile project encompassed developing 3 variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The initial project framework of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program outlines the variants in the following manner. in October 2009 India conducted 2 simultenous user trials of 350 km extended range Prithvi II to be used for strategic purposes.


Dhanush (Sanskrit: Bow) is a naval variant of the Prithvi missile.[31] It can fire either the 250 km or the 350 km range missiles. Supposedly it is a customised version of the Prithvi and that the additional customizations in missile configuration are to certify it for seaworthiness. Dhanush has to be launched from a hydraulically stabilized launch pad. Its low range acts against it and thus it is seen a weapons either to be used to destroy an aircraft carrier or an enemy port. Indian Navy's K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile is reported to be a variant of the Dhanush missile.[32]

The ship launched Dhanush Ballistic Missile was tested from INS Subhadra of the Sukanya class patrol craft in 2000. INS Subhadra is a vessel which was modified and the missile was launched from the reinforced helicopter deck. The 250 km variant was tested but the tests were considered partially successful.[33] In 2004, the missile was again tested from the INS Subhadra and was this time successful.[34] Then the following year in December the missile's 350 km version was tested from the INS Rajput and hit the land based target.[35]


The Agni (Sanskrit: Fire) missile system comprises five missiles:

  • Agni I
  • Agni II
  • Agni III
  • Agni IV
  • Agni V

Agni-I uses the SLV-3 booster (from India's space program) for its first stage and a liquid-fueled Prithvi for its second stage.[36]

Nuclear-capable Agni-II missiles have a range of up to 3,000 km and can carry a payload of 1,000 kg.[37] Unlike the Agni-I, the Agni-II has a solid-fueled second stage.[38]

In July 2006, India successfully test-fired Agni-III,[39] a two-stage nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 3,000 km.[40] Both stages of the Agni-III utilizes solid-fuel propellants and its range can be extended to 4,000 km.[41] The missile is capable of carrying a nuclear payload within the range of 600 to 1,800 kg including decoys and other anti-ballistic counter-measures.[42]

India's DRDO is also working on a submarine-launched ballistic missile version of the Agni-III missile, known as the Agni-III SL. This missile is expected to provide India with a credible sea-based second strike capability. According to Indian defense sources, Agni-III SL will have a range of 3,500 km. [43] In addition, the 5,000 km range Agni-V ICBM is expected to be tested by 2010-11.[44]


The report of Surya ICBM (Sanskrit: Sun) has not been confirmed by officials of the Indian government and have repeatedly denied the existence of the project.The Surya ICBM is an ICBM program that has been mentioned repeatedly in the Indian press .[45] Surya (meaning Sun in Sanskrit and many other Indian languages) is the codename for the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile that India is reported to be developing. The DRDO is believed to have begun the project in 1994.

As the missile is yet to be developed, the specifications of the missile are not known and the entire program continues to remain highly speculative.[46] Estimates of the range of this missile vary from 5,000 km[47] to 10,000 km.[48] It is believed to be a three-stage design, with the first two stages using solid propellants and the third-stage using liquid. In 2007, the Times of India reported that the DRDO is yet to reveal whether India's currently proposed ICBM will be called Agni-V (or Surya-1).[47] As of 2009 it was reported that the government had not considered an 8,000-km range ICBM.[45]

Four decades of investments in a missile-related design, development, and manufacturing infrastructure have also made this sector less vulnerable to long-term disruption by technology denial regimes. More significantly, India's sophisticated civilian satellite launch capability makes it one of the few developing states theoretically capable of building an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).[49]

Shaurya is India's first hypersonic missile.


The Shaurya missile (Sanskrit: Valour) is a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile developed by DRDO of India for use by the Indian Army. It has a range of 600 km and is capable of carrying a payload of one-tonne conventional or nuclear warhead. The Shaurya missile provides India with a significant second strike capability.[50] Shaurya Missile is considered a land version of the Sagarika. This missile is stored in a composite canister just like the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The composite canister makes the missile much easier to store for long periods without maintenance as well as to handle and transport. It also houses the gas generator to eject the missile from the canister before its solid propellant motors take over to hurl it at the intended target. Shaurya missiles can remain hidden or camouflaged in underground silos from enemy surveillance or satellites till they are fired from the special storage-cum-launch canisters. DRDO Defence scientists admit that given Shaurya's limited range at present, either the silos will have to be constructed closer to India's borders or longer-range missiles will have to be developed. The Shaurya system will require some more tests before it becomes fully operational in two-three years. Moreover, defense scientists say the high-speed, two-stage Shaurya has high maneuverability which also makes it less vulnerable to existing anti-missile defense systems.[51] When Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems Advanced Air Defence (AAD) and Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) are to be tested again, the Shaurya invulnerability to anti-missile systems will be tested. The DRDO scientists also have said that if Shaurya is successful and manages to avoid anti ballistic missile radars then the missile can even be used to improve the AAD and PAD systems.


Sagarika (Sanskrit: Wave / Born from the Ocean) is a nuclear capable submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of 750 km. This missile has a length of 8.5 meters, weighs seven tonnes and can carry a pay load of up to 500 kg.[52] The development of this missile started in 1991. The first confirmation about the missile came in 1998.[53] The development of the underwater missile launcher known as the Project 78 (P78) was completed in 2001. This was handed over to the Indian Navy for trials. The missile was successfully test fired thrice. The Indian Navy plans to introduce the missile into service by the end of 2010. Sagarika missile is being integrated with the Advanced Technology Vessel that is expected to begin sea trials by 2009.[54] Sagarika will form part of the triad in India's nuclear deterrence and will provide with retaliatory nuclear strike capability.[55]

Sagarika has already been test-fired from an underwater pontoon, but now DRDO is planning a full-fledged test of the missile from a submarine and for this purpose may use the services of a Russian sub-marine.[56] Eventually it could be introduced into as many as 5 ballistic missile submarines.

Cruise missiles

India has a number of Moskit supersonic nuclear capable cruise missile
P-70 Ametist cruise missile

Nirbhay (Sanskrit "Fearless") is a long range, subsonic cruise missile being developed in India. The missile will have a range of 1,000 km and will arm three services, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.[57] The Nirbhay will be able to be launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air. The first test flight of the missile is expected in the year 2009. Nirbhay will be a terrain hugging, stealth missile[58] capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads depending on mission requirements and will use inertial navigation system for guidance.[59] There are plans to arm the IL-76MDs with the aerial version of the missile.[60]

India has acquired around 200 3M-54 Klub for arming Talwar class frigate, Shivalik class frigate, Kolkata class destroyer and Sindhughosh class submarine.[61] The Russian 3M-54 Klub is a multi-role missile system developed by the Novator Design Bureau (OKB-8) with a range of 250 km-300 km and an average speed of .8 Mach with a maximum of 2.9 Mach.[62] India has both the Klub-N and Klub-S variant to be used for Ships and Submarines respectively.[63] Both the Klub-N and Klub-S have been tested successfully. India currently has the 3M-54E, 3M-54E1, 91RE1 and 91RE2 variants. In addition the Navy has plans to arm the Tu-142 and Tu-22M with an air-launched version. Due to Klub's longer range than BrahMos it may also be used in the Mirage 2000 and Su-30 MKI too. The Navy has shown interest in buying more Klubs which would be incorporated on to the S-1000 submarine if bought by India. India is also keen on other Former Soviet cruise missile such as the P-700 Granit and P-500 Bazalt.

India has Soviet P-70 Ametist submarine-launched cruise missiles.[64] The missile were mostly probably bought in the early 90s and may be used today as canistered launched land based cruise missiles instead of submarine launched cruise missiles. The missiles can carry nuclear warheads and have a range of 50–65 km. Although they are extremely old and incompetent due to their low range and speed, there are still reports that they are kept in reserve and can still be used due to their upgrades in the late 90s.[65]

India has a number of operational Moskits.[64] The P-270 Moskit is a Russian supersonic ramjet powered cruise missile capable of being launched from land and ships. India has most probably bought both land and ship variants which have a range of 120 km. India bought around 200 Klub missiles and now it is believed that the Moskit have been kept in reserve but can still be used.

BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia who have together formed the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited.[66]

The acronym BrahMos is perceived as the confluence of the two nations represented by two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.[67] It travels at speeds of Mach 2.5 to 2.8 and is the world's fastest cruise missile. It is about three-and-a-half times faster than the U.S.A's subsonic Harpoon cruise missile. A hypersonic version of the missile is also presently under development (Lab Tested with 5.26 Mach Speed). BrahMos claims to have the capability of attacking surface targets as low as 10 meters in altitude. It can gain a speed of Mach 2.8, and has a maximum range of 290 km.[68] The ship-launched and land-based missiles can carry a 200 kg warhead, whereas the aircraft-launched variant (BrahMos A) can carry a 300 kg warhead. It has a two-stage propulsion system, with a solid-propellant rocket for initial acceleration and a liquid-fueled ramjet responsible for sustained supersonic cruise. Air-breathing ramjet propulsion is much more fuel-efficient than rocket propulsion, giving the BrahMos a longer range than a pure rocket-powered missile would achieve.

The high speed of the BrahMos likely gives it better target-penetration characteristics than lighter subsonic cruise-missiles such as the Tomahawk. Being twice as heavy and almost four times faster than the Tomahawk, the BrahMos has almost 32 times the initial kinetic energy of a Tomahawk missile (although it pays for this by having only 3/5 the payload and a fraction of the range despite weighing twice as much, suggesting a different tactical paradigm to achieve the objective).

Although BrahMos is primarily an anti-ship missile, it can also engage land based targets. It can be launched either in a vertical or inclined position and is capable of covering targets over a 360 degree horizon. The BrahMos missile has an identical configuration for land, sea, and sub-sea platforms. The air-launched version has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for added stability during launch. The BrahMos is currently being configured for aerial deployment with the Su-30MKI as its carrier. India has produced more than 110 Brahmos by March 2011 as per SIPRI, inducted 1 regiment of Brahmos Type-I GLCM with 67 missiles.

Surface to air missile

Akash SAM

Akash (Hindi: Sky) is India's medium range surface-to-air missile defense system The missile can target aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.[69] Akash can be fired from both tracked and wheeled platforms.[70] Akash is said to be capable of both conventional and nuclear warheads, with a reported payload of 60 kg.[71] A nuclear warhead could potentially give the missile the capability to destroy both aircraft and warheads from ballistic missiles. The missile is described as being able to strike several targets simultaneously, which could mean either separate, independently targetable warheads, or a sufficient blast to destroy a number of them.

Along with India, a limited number of other countries including the US and Russia have developed operational multi-target handling surface-to-air missile systems capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Delivery mechanisms

6 Sindhughosh Class submarines can fire nuclear capable cruise missile, 3M-54 Klub.
The INS Tabar and other Talwar class frigates are armed with the Nuclear capable 3M-54 Klub cruise missiles.

Nuclear submarines

According to some accounts, India plans to have as many as 20 nuclear submarines capable of carrying missiles with nuclear warheads. Currently, India has built one and is building two more nuclear submarines under the Advanced Technology Vessel plan. India currently maintains six submarines of the Sindhughosh Class that can launch the nuclear-capable 3M-54 Klub cruise missiles.

In 1988 INS Chakra (Sanskrit: Wheel), a Charlie-class submarine was leased by the Indian Navy for three years from the Soviet Union, until 1991. The submarine was leased to India between 1988 and 1991 mainly for India to gain experience in the operations of a nuclear submarine. It was later decommissioned in 1991.

  • Arihant class submarine

The Arihant class submarines (Sanskrit: Slayer of Enemies) are a class of nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile submarines being constructed for the Indian Navy at Visakhapatnam, India under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Project [72][73] The ATV is an SSBN and will be armed with ballistic missiles.

The first of these, INS Arihant was launched on 26 July 2009. The vessel, which will undergo sea-trials for up to two years, will then be equipped with an unknown number of K-15 Sagarika SLBMs.[74]

The second and third submarines of the class may incorporate the Nirbhay as well. As of July 2007, the Sagarika missile as well as Dhanush had undergone three successful tests each.

The INS Sindhuraj (Sanskrit: King of the Ocean), INS Sindhuvir(Sanskrit: Warrior of the Ocean), INS Sindhuratna(Sanskrit: Gem of the Ocean), INS Sindhushastra (Sanskrit: Weapon of the Ocean), INS Sindhukesari(Sanskrit: Lion of the Ocean) and INS Sindhuvijay(Sanskrit: Conqueror of the Ocean) are capable of launching 3M-54 Klub and BrahMos nuclear-capable cruise missiles.[75] India bought 10 Kilo class (in India known as Sindhughosh Class) submarine of which 6 have been refitted by the Russian Navy so that the they can launch cruise missiles such as nuclear capable 3M-54 Klub.

  • Leasing of Russian Akula and Amur submarines

In 2000, negotiations between India and Russia were conducted into the leasing of two incomplete Akula class. The Akulas were to be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2008 on a lease of at least seven years and up to ten years, in which at the end of the lease, it has an option to buy them. The acquisition was to help the Indian Navy prepare for the introduction of the ATV. The cost to India of acquiring two Akula submarines and their support infrastructure along with training of the crews had been estimated at $2 billion.[76] The Indian version was reportedly armed with the 300 km range 3M-54 Klub nuclear-capable missiles.[75] Supposedly on 9 November 2008 one of the two submarines was conducting tests, when an accident on board killed 20 sailors but no damage occurred to the submarine. Though this deal fell apart for some time due to the Indians demanding an upgrade/improvement in some of its safety features, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev on his official trip to New Delhi said that the deal was back on track and that "The talk is not about selling submarines into India's property, but about their rent by India's navy".[77] However, unlike the earlier deal the modified deal states that India can only rent and not buy the subs, but defence experts state that the so-called lease agreement is only to divert international attention and that it would be eventually modified and India would inevitably keep the subs. The first submarine will be named INS Chakra.[78] Russia has also offered the advanced Amur Class Submarine, known as the S1000. According to GlobalSecurity India is already building the S1000 cruise missile submarines in Mazagaon Docks.[79] The Amur will be most probably fitted with P-700 Granit or the Klub cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers

The Shivalik class frigates are armed with the 3M-54 Klub and may also incorporate the nuclear capable Nirbhay missile in the future. Seen here is the INS Shivalik when under sea trials.

Other than submarines, India also maintains ships such as destroyers, modified patrol crafts and frigates which can launch nuclear capable ballistic and cruise missiles.

Talwar class frigate and Shivalik class frigate are frigates of the Indian Navy that can fire nuclear capable cruise missiles. INS Tabar and INS Trishul are Talwar class vessel armed with supersonic nuclear 3M-54 Klub cruise missiles while INS Shivalik was the first vessel of the Shivalik class to incorporate the 3M-54 Klub. Other vessels of the Shivalik Class and Talwar Class are to be armed with the BrahMos and 3M-54 Klub missiles by 2009 and 2010 respectively. All these frigates are also equipped with Barak missiles or other SAMs and harbour helicopters such as the HAL Dhruv. In years to come, the Nirbhay missile is also to be incorporated into Talwar class frigates and Shivalik class frigates.

Rajput Class, Kolkata Class and Delhi Class are Destroyers of the Indian Navy that may be armed with nuclear capable missile-Nirbhay. In addition Kolkata Class will also incorporate the Russian nuclear 3M-54 Klub cruise missile.[61]

The ship launched Dhanush Ballistic Missile was tested from INS Subhadra of the Sukanya class patrol craft in 2000. INS Subhadra is a patrol vessel which was modified and the missile was launched from the reinforced helicopter deck. The 250 km variant was tested but the tests were considered partially successful.[33] In 2004, the missile was again tested from the INS Subhadra and was this time successful.[34] Then the following year in December the missile's 350 km version was tested from the INS Rajput and hit the land based target.[35]

INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier (formerly known as Admiral Gorshkov) was fitted with P-500 Bazalt nuclear capable cruise missiles of the range of 550 km.[80] The Vikramaditya could still be armed with this after its refit. India is also a potential customer for a Slava class cruiser which also incorporates the P-500 Bazalt.

Nuclear-capable aircraft

Indian Air Force Mirage 2000H.
IAF Sukhoi Su-30 MKI

India currently has fourth generation jet fighters capable of launching nuclear weapons. Nuclear-capable aircraft are also seen as a less expensive way of dropping nuclear warheads as well as being as effective.

  • Fighter jets

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI,[81] Dassault Mirage 2000,[82] and MiG-29[83] serve in the Indian Air Force and are also seen as a means to deliver nuclear weapons. In addition India maintains SEPECAT Jaguar and MiG-27M which can be used to drop gravity bombs.[84] On the other hand, the Su-30MKI, capable of carrying nuclear weapons and tailor-made for Indian specifications, integrates Indian systems and avionics.[81] is one of the best air superiority fighters and also consists of French and Israeli subsystems.[85] The MKI variant features several improvements over the basic K and MK variants and is classified as a 4.5 generation fighter.[86][87] Due to similar features and components, the MKI variant is often considered to be a customized Indian variant of the Sukhoi Su-35. The Mirage 2000Hs were heavily customised during the Kargil War and is the only other version, other than the French 2000N, to be able to be armed with nuclear weapons. Though the MiG-29 like the HAL Tejas after many test flights have not been tested to use nuclear weapons, they have the capacity to be armed with them. Both the HAL Tejas and Su-30MKI can travel excess of 3,000 km without refueling; this allows India to attack targets far away in an effective manner only using planes rather than delivery systems such as the Agni. The HAL Tejas is India's only indigenous plane to be armed with nuclear weapons, thus making India less dependent on Russia.

India has leased four Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers, which could carry air-launched cruise missiles. India has reportedly upgraded its Russian-built Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft to carry air-launched cruise missiles.[88] India is expected to buy up to 200 Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jets, developed jointly by Russia and India.[89]

Ballistic missile defense

India's Advanced Air Defense (AAD) interceptor missile

India has an active ABM development effort using indigenously developed and integrated radars and locally designed missiles.[90] In November 2006, India successfully conducted the PADE (Prithvi Air Defence Exercise) in which an Anti-ballistic missile, called the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) an Exoatmospheric (outside the atmosphere) interceptor system intercepted a Prithvi-II ballistic missile. The PAD missile has the secondary stage of the Prithvi missile and can reach altitude of 80 km. During the test the target missile was intercepted at an 50 km altitude.[91] India became the fourth nation in the world to acquire such a capability and the third nation to develop it through indigenous effort.[92] On 6 December 2007 the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile system was tested successfully.[93] This missile is an Endo atmospheric interceptor with an altitude of 30 km. According to scientist V K Saraswat of DRDO the missiles will work in tandem to ensure a hit probability of 99.8 percent.[94] Induction of the system into services is expected to be in 2010. Two new anti ballistic missiles that can intercept IRBM/ICBMs are being developed. These high speed missiles (AD-1 and AD-2) are being developed to intercept ballistic missiles with the range of 5,000 km.[95]

India also has Russian S300 PMU-2 and it is used as an interceptor for ballistic missiles. An indigenous nuclear tipped surface to air missile, Akash Missile is used to destroy low range missiles and is capable of destroying various targets and is one of the few of its kind systems in the world. India has also shown interest in the Russian S-400, the most advanced anti-ballistic missile.

Chemical weapons

In 1992 India signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), stating that it did not have chemical weapons and the capacity or capability to manufacture chemical weapons. By doing this India became one of the original signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] in 1993,[96] and ratified it on 2 September 1996. According to India's ex-Army Chief General Sunderji, a country having the capability of making nuclear weapons does not need to have chemical weapons, since the dread of chemical weapons could be created only in those countries that do not have nuclear weapons. Others suggested that the fact that India has found chemical weapons dispensable highlighted its confidence in the conventional weapons system at its command.

In June 1997, India declared its stock of chemical weapons(stockpile of 1044 tonnes of sulphur mustard).[97][98] By the end of 2006, India had destroyed more than 75 percent of its chemical weapons/material stockpile and was granted extension for destroying (the remaining stocks by April 2009) and was expected to achieve 100 percent destruction within that timeframe.[99] India informed the United Nations in May, 2009 that it had destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons in compliance with the international Chemical Weapons Convention. With this India has become third country after South Korea and Albania to do so.[100][101] This was cross-checked by inspectors of the United Nations.

India has an advanced commercial chemical industry, and produces the bulk of its own chemicals for domestic consumption. It is also widely acknowledged that India has an extensive civilian chemical and pharmaceutical industry and annually exports considerable quantities of chemicals to countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, and Taiwan.[102]

Biological warfare

India has a well-developed biotechnology infrastructure that includes numerous pharmaceutical production facilities bio-containment laboratories (including BSL-3 and BSL-4) for working with lethal pathogens. It also has highly qualified scientists with expertise in infectious diseases. Some of India’s facilities are being used to support research and development for BW defense purposes. India has ratified the BWC and pledges to abide by its obligations. There is no clear evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that directly points toward an offensive BW program. New Delhi does possess the scientific capability and infrastructure to launch an offensive BW program, but has chosen not to do so. In terms of delivery, India also possesses the capability to produce aerosols and has numerous potential delivery systems ranging from crop dusters to sophisticated ballistic missiles.[103]

No information exists in the public domain suggesting interest by the Indian government in delivery of biological agents by these or any other means. To reiterate the latter point, in October 2002, Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam asserted that "we [India] will not make biological weapons. It is cruel to human beings..."[103]

See also


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