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India has 75-125 nuclear weapons: US report


Washington: Suggesting that India has a sizeable nuclear weapons effort, a US think tank estimated India’s nuclear arsenal at around 75-125 weapons made from weapon-grade plutonium and perhaps some thermonuclear weapons.

India has a substantial stock of nuclear weapons made from weapon-grade plutonium, and perhaps some thermonuclear weapons that rely on both weapon-grade plutonium and weapon-grade uranium,” according to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

“An estimate of India’s nuclear arsenal can be derived by considering its weapon-grade plutonium stock,” it said. “The resulting estimate has a median of 138 nuclear weapons equivalent with a range of 110 to 175 weapons equivalent.”

However, the actual number of nuclear weapons India built from its stocks of weapon-grade plutonium must be less, ISIS said.

“When accounting for the amount of plutonium in the weapons production pipelines and in reserves, it is reasonable to assume that only about 70 percent of the estimated stock of weapon-grade uranium is in nuclear weapons,” it said.

Thus, the predicted number of weapons made from its weapon-grade plutonium at the end of 2014 is about 97 with a range of 77-123,” ISIS said. “These values are rounded to 100 nuclear weapons with a range of 75-125 nuclear weapons.”

The think tank also noted that India has one of the largest nuclear power programmess among developing nations.

Utilising plutonium produced in these power reactors and discharged in irradiated or spent fuel, India has developed a relatively large civil plutonium separation programme and an associated fast breeder reactor programme that is using that separated plutonium, the report said.

For its “sizeable nuclear weapons effort”, ISIS said, India uses “separated plutonium produced primarily in a set of small, dedicated reactors and a smaller amount produced in nuclear power reactors.”

“It has a growing gas centrifuge programme able to produce significant amounts of highly enriched uranium (HEU) mostly for naval reactor fuel and perhaps for nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear weapons,” it said.

Despite many obstacles, India has managed over several decades to put in place a relatively large nuclear weapons production complex, the report said.

“Its current complex can produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear powered submarines,” ISIS said. “It has a sophisticated missile production complex that provides the delivery systems for its nuclear weapons.”

Indian nuclear weapons use weapon-grade plutonium,” the report said. “The bulk of this plutonium for nuclear weapons has come from the Cirus and Dhruva heavy water reactors, both located at the Bhabba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai.”

ISIS cited an unnamed senior US official as saying that “after the 1998 tests, India used its civil power reactors to ‘surge’ weapon-grade plutonium production for its nuclear weapons programme.”

India explained to US officials at that time that it needed to build up its weapons plutonium stock after the 1998 tests before it engaged in negotiations for a Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), negotiations which have still not come to fruition,” the report said.

It may have subsequently produced additional weapon-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons in its civil power reactors, it said

“Although generally India is not believed to use reactor-grade plutonium in nuclear weapons, Indian nuclear experts are reported to have evaluated this plutonium’s use in nuclear weapons and India may have decided to create a reserve stock of reactor-grade plutonium for possible use in nuclear weapons,” the report suggested.

(By Arun Kumar,IANS)

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS