An important feature of India’s nuclear deterrent has been the calibrated secrecy surrounding its growth. This is essential, as India’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes have a large involvement of dedicated scientists and engineers from the DRDO, the Department of Atomic Energy, academic institutions, and commercial organisations from the public and private sectors.
India’s nuclear weapons programme is under continuing worldwide scrutiny, including by specialist organisations like the Federation of American Scientists and similar organisations in the UK, France, Russia, and doubtless, China and Pakistan.
India has produced three nuclear-powered submarines, and could induct the fourth next year.
While Indian scientists have made discreet statements about our ballistic missile tests, one finds more details of our nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in studies by American scientific publications like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and other organisations like the MacArthur Foundation. Such studies are carefully researched and counterchecked. These are not significantly different from what one periodically finds in writings in India.
According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, India has enough weapons grade plutonium to produce 150 to 200 nuclear weapons, with a current estimated stockpile of 150 nuclear weapons. There is potential to step up production of fissile material significantly through the growing numbers of fast breeder and other plutonium reactors. According to the infamous Dr AQ Khan, Pakistan provided China with the centrifuge technology for enriched uranium, whose details he had purloined in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.
China, in turn, provided Pakistan the knowhow to utilise enriched uranium produced in Pakistan for nuclear weapons. The then US President Jimmy Carter looked the other way at these developments after he was swept off his feet by his ‘friendship’ with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.