SLUG: 2-268611 India Nukes (L) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: A top government scientist in India says his country has the capability to build nuclear weapons with yields of up to 200-kilotons. V-O-A's Jim Teeple reports the announcement - made in India's financial capital Bombay - also known as Mumbai, raises India's known nuclear-weapons capabilities.

TEXT: India's Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R. Chidambaram says nuclear tests two-years ago were so successful that his country's scientists and engineers now have the capability to design and build far larger weapons.

In 1998 India conducted a series of nuclear tests in the Pokhran desert prompting similar tests in Pakistan. The tests raised fears around the world of a nuclear confrontation developing between India and Pakistan who have fought three wars in the past half-century.

During its Pokhran tests, India detonated a nuclear device with a declared yield of 45-kilotons.

Mr. Chidambaram spoke before a gathering of top scientists and engineers who work at India's preeminent nuclear laboratory the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Bombay. He said India can now produce a weapon with three-times as much destructive potential a weapon with a yield of 200-kilotons.

K. Subramanayam chairs India's National Security Advisory Board, which prepares an annual review of India's strategic defense. Mr. Subramanyam, a close advisor to leading government officials, says while India can build a 200-kiloton weapon there is no reason to believe it will.


It is a hydrogen bomb. I do not think that when Chidambaram says he can do 200-kilotons that India will do (make) 200-kilotons. He is only talking as a scientist and as a weapons designer. The capabilities of India and what India will do that is something different, which depends on the government's strategic decision. I do not think that India needs a 200-kiloton weapon and therefore it is quite likely that the government itself might not do 200-kilotons. There are 150 to 200-kiloton weapons available in the hundreds-of-thousands in the arsenals of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France.

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Independent analysts say India has the capability to produce about 90-nuclear weapons, while Pakistan has the capability to produce about half that number.

Both countries have rejected signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that bans all testing of nuclear weapons. India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee says before India signs the treaty there must be a national consensus to do so. (SIGNED)