1 September 2015

Indian nuclear forces, 2015

Hans M. Kristensen

Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. His work focuses on researching and writing about the status of...

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Robert S. Norris

Norris is a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC. A former senior research...

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With several long-range ballistic missiles in development, the Indian nuclear posture is entering an important new phase. After nearly two decades of focusing on nuclear competition with Pakistan, New Delhi seems to now be paying attention to its future strategic relationship with China. India is estimated to have produced approximately 540 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium, enough for 135 to 180 nuclear warheads, though not all of that material is being used. The authors estimate that India has produced between 110 and 120 nuclear warheads. The country’s fighter-bombers still constitute the backbone of its operational nuclear strike force, but it has made considerable progress in developing credible land-based ballistic missiles as well. They include the Agni-4, which will be capable of delivering a single nuclear warhead more than 3,500 kilometers, and therefore able to strike Beijing and Shanghai from northern India. In 2014, India conducted its first ever sea trial of a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.