India’s A-Bomb Potential

The plutonium produced in the Cirus and Dhruva reactors is ideal for making atomic bombs. The power reactors at Madras, Narora and Kakrapar generate plutonium that is also suitable for bombs and free from international controls. However, India’s plutonium must be processed into weapon-ready form at extraction plants that have not performed to capacity. With a new extraction plant starting at Kalpakkam, India could rapidly increase the size of its arsenal.

India could have over 50 bombs in its arsenal today, but U.S. officials say the number is closer to 20. India could make scores more by the year 2000.

Reactor: Cirus
Start-up: 1960
Pu created through 1993: 260 kilograms

Reactor: Dhruva
Start-up: 1985
Pu created through 1993: 160 kilograms

Reactor: Madras I
Start-up: 1983
Pu created through 1993: 730 kilograms

Reactor: Madras II
Start-up: 1985
Pu created through 1993: 580 kilograms

Reactor: Narora I
Start-up: 1991
Pu created through 1993: 170 kilograms

Reactor: Narora II
Start-up: 1992
Pu created through 1993: 65 kilograms

Reactor: Kakrapar I
Start-up: 1993
Pu created through 1993: 40 kilograms

Reactor: Kakrapar II
Start-up 1994

Notes: * Cirus makes about 9 kg and Dhruva makes about 25 kg of plutonium per year. The amount of plutonium produced by the power reactors is calculated from electricity output.

** The table assumes roughly 6 kg of plutonium per bomb. If operated to capacity, India’s three plants at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam could extract enough plutonium for more than 100 bombs per year.