India conducted its first nuclear explosive test in 1974 and possesses nuclear weapons, full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, and a variety of nuclear delivery systems. Regional rival Pakistan’s first nuclear test in 1998 and the subsequent nuclear arms race between the two countries means the conflict now carries the potential risk of nuclear escalation.
See India's performance in
Region South Asia
~150 Nuclear warheads
4.4±1.6 tons Estimated highly-enriched uranium stockpile
0.6±0.15 tons Estimated weapons-grade plutonium stockpile
1 Operational Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN)
- Conducted test of a "peaceful nuclear explosion" code named “Smiling Buddha” in May 1974
- Declared nuclear no first use policy; recent official statements cast doubt on future of policy
- Expansion of fissile material stocks has provoked speculation about potential thermonuclear weapon development
- No credible evidence showing the development or production of biological weapons
- Has one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical industries and extensive dual-use capabilities
- Possesses advanced biodefense capabilities
- NEWS: On October 14, 2022, India conducted a successful test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from an Arihant-class SSBN
- Developing anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) capabilities; successfully carried out an ASAT missile test in March 2019
- Possesses several types of operational nuclear-capable land-based ballistic missiles, SLBMS, and cruise missiles
- Successfully conducted 11 missile tests in late 2020, including the new naval version of the BrahMos cruise missile and hypersonic Shaurya missile
The CNS India and Pakistan Missile Launch Databases
- Announced destruction of all chemical weapons stocks in March 2009
- Has extensive civilian chemical and pharmaceutical industry; annually exports considerable quantities of Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals
- Chemical industry is a major sector of the economy that includes trade in dual use chemicals
“Night of Murder”: On the Brink of Nuclear War in South Asia
India and Pakistan came close to using nuclear weapons. (CNS)
Cruising for a Bruising: How Cruise Missiles Are Threatening Norms Between India and Pakistan
Extensive resources on nuclear policy, biological threats, radiological security, cyber threats and more.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Nuclear Notebook: Indian Nuclear Forces, 2020.” Accessed October 12, 2021. https://thebulletin.org/premium/2020-07/nuclear-notebook-indian-nuclear-forces-2020/.
Deutsche Welle. “What Is the India-France Rafale Fighter Jet Deal All about? | DW | 03.08.2021.” https://www.dw.com/en/.
George Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
Ansuman Tripathy, “India Emerges a Top Five Pharmaceuticals Markets of the World,” Businessworld, 5 May 2018, businessworld.in.
“Update on Chemical Demilitarisation,” Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 21 April 2009, opcw.org.
Ashley J. Tellis. “India’s ASAT Test: An Incomplete Success.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 15 April 2019 https://carnegieendowment.org/.
Shankhyaneel Sarkar, “BrahMos test-fired: List of missiles India has tested in last two months,” Hindustan Times, 18 October 2020, www.hindustantimes.com.