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SIPRI report

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    25th Jun, 2020

India stands seventh among the nine countries armed with nuclear weapons in terms of inventory of warheads, according to the SIPRI Year Book 2020.

Context

India stands seventh among the nine countries armed with nuclear weapons in terms of inventory of warheads, according to the SIPRI Year Book 2020.

About

  • Nuclear bombs are weapons of mass destruction. They harness the forces that hold the nucleus of an atom together by using the energy released when the particles of the nucleus (neutrons and protons) are either split or merged.
  • Nuclear weapons are made using fissile material which can be either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium.
  • There are two ways that nuclear energy can be released from an atom:
    • Nuclear fission– the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller fragments by a neutron. This method usually involves isotopes of uranium (uranium-235, uranium-233) or plutonium (plutonium-239).
    • Nuclear fusion– two smaller atoms are brought together, usually hydrogen or hydrogen isotopes (deuterium, tritium), to form a larger one (helium isotopes); this is how the sun produces energy.

 

Key-highlights of the Report

  • Both nuclear neighbours of India-China and Pakistan-have more warheads than its inventory.
    • Pakistan: Pakistan ranks sixth, with 160 nuclear warheads, just above India among the nuclear weapon countries. There is a significant development, according to SIPRI report, in Pakistan's nuclear weapon programme.
    • China: China's nuclear warhead count stands at 320 - that is, more than double the number that India has. SIPRI says China is in the middle of a significant modernisation and expansion of its arsenal.
  • China and Pakistan have had more nuclear warheads than India in the past as well.
  • Russia leads the world with 6,375 warheads, followed by the US with 5,800, and the UK with 215 warheads.
  • Israel is believed to possess between 80 and 90 nuclear warheads.
  • The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020.

What’s used in the production?

  • Pakistan has produced mainly HEU but is increasing its ability to produce plutonium.
  • China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons.
  • India and Israel are the only countries to have produced mainly plutonium for their nuclear warheads.

Is there any active deployment?

  • There is no active deployment of nuclear warheads in South Asia.
    • Only four countries - the US, the UK, Russia and France, have deployed nuclear warheads.
  • So, Indian borders are free of deployed nuclear weapons.

The situation in India

  • India has moved slowly to build its nuclear-triad. After developing land and air "vectors" (carriers of nuclear warheads - Agni series of missiles for the Army and Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters of the Air Force), India is boosting naval nuclear prowess.
  • INS Arihant became n-capable in 2018. INS Arighat is on the course.
  • India has become the third largest spender on military for the first time and is second biggest importer of arms in the world.
  • But it still spends only a little over one-fourth of China's military spending.

About SIPRI

  • Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
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