India has fissile materials for only 100 nuke weapons: Scholar

In a research article, scholar Elizabeth Whitfield said available information nowhere takes the math that India can build 2,000 nuclear weapons.

PTI| Updated: Apr 22, 2016, 23:44 PM IST

Washington: India has fissile material in its possession enough for a stockpile of about 100 nuclear weapons and not for 2,000 nuclear weapons as claimed by a Pakistani nuclear analyst, a US scholar has said.

In a research article published in the prestigious Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, scholar Elizabeth Whitfield said publicly available information nowhere takes the math that India can build 2,000 nuclear weapons.

In September 2015, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that India possessed "enough fissile material....For more than 2,000 warheads." The report came after a meeting of the Pakistan's National Command Authority.

"What is the most plausible estimate of India's fissile material stockpile and the number of nuclear weapons that it could build? After discounting unseparated plutonium in spent fuel as a source of proliferation in the near future, even (Mansoor) Ahmed's (Pakistani nuclear analyst) generous estimate from the South Asian Voices blog post is only equivalent to a potential Indian arsenal of 844 nuclear warheads?a significant number to be sure, but nowhere near 2,000 weapons," Whitfield said.

"If one discounts reactor-grade plutonium entirely, that estimate drops even further to an arsenal of just 219 weapons," she wrote.

It is also clear that some of India's weapons-grade plutonium was already used in nuclear tests or is contained in process waste, she added.

"Taking into account those factors, the estimate quickly begins to drop to something much more along the lines of the ISIS estimate of roughly 100 nuclear warheads," Whitfield said.