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US dismisses report on India covertly increasing nukes

Last updated on: June 21, 2014 10:26 IST

The US dismissed a report suggesting that India is covertly enriching its nuclear weapons capabilities, describing it as "speculative".

"We're not in a position to speculate on its conclusions," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference when asked about a report which alleged India is covertly enhancing its nuclear weapons capabilities.

"We remain fully committed to the terms of the 123 agreement and to enhancing our strategic relationship. Nothing we provide to India under the civ-nuke agreement may be used to enhance India's military capability or add to its military stockpile, but we don't have enough information or confirmation of the report to speak to that," Psaki said.

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Nothing provided to India can be used to enhance their military capability, she reiterated.

"I'm not certain and...that would be highly speculative about this, given there's only one external report that's not a reflection of a US government report," Psaki said.

In a report the IHS Jane's defence and security intelligence experts claimed that they have identified a possible new uranium hexafluoride plant at the Indian Rare Metals Plant (IRMP) near Mysore.

The report alleged that this site in India will support new centrifuges that will substantially expand India's uranium enrichment capacity, most likely to facilitate the construction of an increased number of naval reactors to expand the country's nuclear submarine fleet, but also, to potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons.

IHS Jane's experts assess that the new uranium enrichment facility could become operational by mid- to late-2015.

"The expansion of India's uranium enrichment facilities allows the country to press ahead with the introduction of its ballistic missile nuclear submarine fleet, part of an effort to enhance its existing nuclear deterrent in the face of perceived threats from both China and Pakistan," said Matthew Clements, editor, IHS Jane's Intelligence Review.

Robert Kelley, consultant to IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, said the US continues to treat India as a bona fide nuclear weapons state despite India's failure to ratify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"Mysore's original centrifuge plant was constructed in 1992, although in 2010 site clearance for a new, even larger, suspected centrifuge hall began. It is this new facility that could soon be operational.

"India is generally vocal in publicising its defence industry successes, but has revealed little about operations at Mysore, possibly to reduce attention to its nuclear trade agreements with the US," he said.

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