India capable of conducting another nuclear test at shortest notice, says Defence Ministry

India capable of conducting another nuclear test at shortest notice, says Defence Ministry

*NEW DELHi - *India is capable of conducting a nuclear test at short notice, defence research chief Dr S Christopher has told NDTV. This assertion from one of the country's top scientists comes 20 years after India successfully tested its nuclear capability in Pokhran.

Dr Christopher sought to dispel any notion that India's nuclear technology was stuck at the 1998 level when five bombs were successfully tested.

"Technology-wise, we are continuously growing; there is no doubt about it. You cannot stagnate in that position. I am honest to say that the growth is so tremendous we are almost on par with many other countries," Dr Christopher said in an exclusive interview.

These remarks by the chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are an expression of the country's technological readiness. The final call to go ahead with a nuclear test is a political decision taken by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Committee on Security.

India had imposed a unilateral moratorium after the 1998 nuclear tests and continues to abide by it. According to the nuclear doctrine, there will be no-first-use of atomic weapons by India but in case an adversary strikes with atomic weapons, New Delhi will exercise the right to give an answer with a 'punishing second strike'.

In 1998, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given DRDO, which was headed by APJ Abdul Kalam, 40 days to undertake the nuclear test.

Asked if the DRDO could replicate that feat within the same timeline, Dr Christopher said "we are ready", adding that no field tests were needed due to available advanced technologies that can recreate a real time environment.

"Everything in research and development you cannot test --- like, for instance, a mission to the moon. There are a lot of simulations that are possible today to say what exactly will happen," claimed Dr Christopher.

On May 11 and 13, 1998 India had tested five nuclear weapons, including a hydrogen bomb. Two weeks later, Pakistan had responded with a set of five tests at its Chagai nuclear site.