India modernizing nuclear arsenal with eye on China: US experts

Washington: India continues to modernize its atomic arsenal with an eye on China and its nuclear strategy, which traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on the Communist giant , said two top American nuclear experts.
An article by the experts, published in the July-August issue of the digital journal After Midnight, also claimed that India is now developing a missile which can target 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 article said. It has likely produced only 120-130, wrote Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S Norris in the article- “Indian nuclear forces 2017.”
“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,” they wrote.
“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,” they said.
Noting that India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal with the 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 program is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land- and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade,” it said.
Kristensen and Norris said that the two-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile Agni-2, an improvement on the Agni-1, which can deliver a nuclear or conventional warhead more than 2,000 kilometers is probably targeted on western, central, and southern China.
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), it said.
“The extra range will allow the Indian military to establish Agni-5 bases in central and southern India, further away from China,” the research article said.

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