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India Building Secret Nuclear Facility, says US Magazine

NEW DELHI: India is building a top-secret facility in southern Karnataka to enhance its nuclear power for ‘civilian’ use as well as for military purposes, including thermonuclear weapons, says a report published in international magazine Foreign Policy.

According to the report the construction at a top-secret site in Challakere in southern Karnataka’s Chitradurga district began in 2012 by two secretive agencies. The project will be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons-and aircraft-testing facilities when it’s completed in 2017.

The report that was originally published by the US-based non-profit Center for Public Integrity (CPI), said that Karnataka’s secret project was aimed at expanding the nuclear research, to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, and to help power the country’s fleet of new submarines.

According to retired Indian government officials and independent experts in London and Washington, the more controversial ambition, 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 magazine quoting unnamed experts claimed that this secretive development may force India’s neighbours China and Pakistan to ratchet up their own nuclear arsenal.

The report said New Delhi has never published a detailed account of its nuclear arsenal, which it first developed in 1974.

The magazine, quoting an estimate by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said that India already possesses between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons, as compared to Pakistan’s estimated stockpile of up to 120. China has approximately 260 warheads.

Foreign Policy said that the US based non-profit organisation had carried out an investigation including interviews with locals, senior and retired scientists and military officers connected to the programme, and foreign experts and analysts.

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