Newsletter N° 10 (India)

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)

YEAR
1995 1996 1997

Reprocessing plant

Mox fuel fabrication plant
of which, stored as oxide

753
3,146
2,136

601
3,543
2,563

538
3,649
2,706

Reactor sites

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

823
31
367
0
425

887
48
367
43
429

819
23
367
0
429

Overseas reprocessors

of which, at BNFL
of which, at COGEMA

11,378
1,418
9,960

5,090
2,437
2,653

19,083
3,549
15,534
Total
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.

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