India - Plutonium Investigation n°10

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Figure of the month

Few Figures From India

India, which has concealed the development of its nuclear arsenal, has of course not published any figures concerning its inventory of separated plutonium. Furthermore, because of this concealment, it is quite sure that parts of the civil program (technology, materials as well as human resources) have been used for the weapons program. Different estimates have however been published of the inventory of Indian plutonium. US non proliferation expert, L. S. Spector, who published a yearly evaluation of the evolution of the nuclear arsenals worldwide, gives as a conservative and realistic estimate the capability of producing 15 nuclear devices annually - but only about ten had been produced by 1990. Spector estimates that, as of mid-1990, India had enough plutonium for 40 and possibly for 60 nuclear devices - that is between 320 and 480 kg of weapons grade plutonium. This estimate agrees with reported US official data based on intelligence information. A recent estimate by W.P.S. Siddhu, published in an international intelligence review, is that India has between 20 and 60 nuclear weapons and a potential to build 390 to 450 weapons.

Figures From Japan

Japan's plutonium inventory, as end of year (kg, total plutonium)

1995 1996 1997

Reprocessing plant

Mox fuel fabrication plant
of which, stored as oxide




Reactor sites

of which, at Joyo
of which, at Monju
of which, at Fugen
of which, as critical assemblies




Overseas reprocessors

of which, at BNFL
of which, at COGEMA



16,100 10,121 24,089

Source: STA, as quoted by CNIC, Tokyo

Above are the latest figures on Japan's plutonium inventory. While the figures for separated plutonium in Japan ("stored as oxide") add up to less than 3 tonnes, the figure for Japanese plutonium in France is more than 15 tonnes.

The Japanese administration does not give any detail on how much of this plutonium in France is already separated. However, as compared to the 24 tonnes of plutonium which have been separated through the reprocessing of 2,374 tonnes of Japanese spent fuel (WISE-Paris estimate) at La Hague (as of 1 March 1998), the figure is quite low. Only 1.75 tonnes of plutonium have been sent back from France to Japan already.

The difference in the figures must be high estimate of the plutonium content in the spent fuel, as well as in the quantity of Japanese plutonium which has been sent to Belgium for MOX manufacturing.

Words of the month

Official Explanation for the Tests

Following are excerpts from the "special message from the Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee" addressed by Dr. R. Chidambaram, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Leader of the Indian Delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA General Conference, 21-25 September 1998, Vienna. It is interesting to note that India declares the 1998 nuclear tests as part of its "nuclear disarmament" policy.

"Right from the time of our independence in 1947, our leaders had realised that a nuclear weapon-free world would enhance the security of all nations. That is why nuclear disarmament was and continues to be a major plank of our foreign policy. We had therefore, called for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954, the aim of which was to prevent further development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. This was not accepted, with the result that two new nuclear weapons states emerged between then and the elaboration of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.

"[...] India's nuclear tests were not intended for offence but for self-defense. We have stated that we will not be the first to use nuclear weapons".

[...] [Dr. R. Chidambaram then continues:]over the last five decades India has worked for a nuclear weapon-free world because nuclear weapons for none means security for all. The Nuclear Weapons States as defined by the NPT selectively ignored the provision in the NPT which obliged them to work towards nuclear disarmament. They were even unwilling to include in the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) a provision for a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament which India had urged. The prospects for a nuclera weapon-free world dimmed alarmingly with the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. So this year, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our Independence, we were compelled to re-define the parameters of our security requirements. As a developing country, India hopes that the developing world notices that the countries which have chosen to vehemently criticise the recent tests are either the established Nuclear Weapon States, who like to preserve their exclusive position, or are those who have already addressed their nuclear related national security concerns of the kind India has. This is not surprising because they are either not placed in a hostile neighbourhood or they enjoy the security of the nuclear umbrella of a Nuclear Weapon State."

UNESCO Prize Winner Says Nuclear Power Brought the Bomb

On 16 November 1998, International Day for Tolerance, the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence was presented to Narayan Desai of India and the Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights of Pakistan.

Upon receiving the prize, Mr Desai declared "Morality depends on two things - a reverence for life and an insistence on truth [...]

We oppose nuclear weapons because we are against the genocide of the innocent. We want to save the environment from destruction. We do not want to put our future generations in perpetual danger. We oppose the hiding of the truth from the ordinary public. Nuclear weapons do all four things by creating an area protected from responsibility and accountability to the public, hence they are a negation of life and truth." Mr Desai added that "those countries which have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons have no right whatsoever to preach disarmament to others." Denouncing most countries' lack of commitment to disarmament, Mr Desai went on to condemn nuclear technology as a whole: "Peaceful nuclear technology is a deception, peaceful and war-full nuclear technology are Siamese twins. The nations which went in for peaceful nuclear technology have kept open their options to build weapons. Our two countries [India and Pakistan] are the best examples of this".

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