India is gearing up its nuclear arsenal aimed at targeting entire China, while it is already capable of deterring Pakistan, said a research article published in July-August issue of ‘After Midnight’.
Written by top American nuclear experts — Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris — in the article titled, “Indian nuclear forces 2017“, the report said India is modernising its atomic arsenal seeking parity with China and not Pakistan, its traditional arch rival in the region of South Asia.
The writers claimed that India is now developing a missile which can carry nuclear heads to any remote area in China from its bases in South India. So far, India has developed an estimated 600 kilograms of plutonium, sufficient to produce 200 warhead though it has developed 120 to 130 nuclear warheads, they said.
India’s nuclear strategy is fast shifting to China, which they called “Decoupling” strategy aimed at both the northern neighbours. “While India has traditionally been focused on deterring Pakistan, its nuclear modernisation indicates that it is putting increased emphasis on its future strategic relationship with China. 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.
The report has also estimated that India has seven nuclear-capable systems in total, four land-based nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, the short-range Prithvi-2 and Agni-1, the medium-range Agni-2, and the intermediate-range Agni-3. At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development known as the Agni-4 and Agni-5, it said.
There is speculation to arm the Agni-5 with multiple warheads – even multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) in the near future, said the report. The report attributed this development to recent changes in China and Pakistan policies. China resorted to equip some of its ICBMs with MIRVs, while Pakistan announced in January 2017 that it had test-launched a new Ababeel ICBM with MIRVs. Soon, India may come under pressure to opt for MIRV technology, argued the authors.