Washington: India is building a top-secret nuclear city to produce thermonuclear weapons and when completed in 2017 the facility would be the subcontinent's "largest military-run" complex of nuclear centrifuges, a leading American foreign policy journal has claimed.
The secret city in Challakere in Karnataka could "upgrade" the country as a nuclear power and unsettle its two major neighbours - Pakistan and China, Foreign Policy magazine said in an investigative report.
"But another, more controversial ambition, according to retired Indian government officials and independent experts in London and Washington, is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons, substantially increasing the explosive force of those in its existing nuclear arsenal," the report said.
The city when completed in 2017 would be "the subcontinent's largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities", the report said.
"India's close neighbours, China and Pakistan, would see this move as a provocation: Experts say they might respond by ratcheting up their own nuclear firepower," the report said.
The independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates that India already possesses between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons, as compared to Pakistan's estimated stockpile of up to 120.
China, which borders India to the north, has approximately 260 warheads.
The report does not contain any official response from either the Indian or the US Government, but has quoted several unnamed officials and retired government officials for the story.
"Mysore is being constantly monitored, and we are constantly monitoring progress in Challakere," a former White House official has been quoted as saying by the report. Challakere is nearly 260 km from Mysore.