[Representational image]Creative Commons

Pakistan has said India has been diverting nuclear material from its power-generation facilities, and has amassed enough to make 2,600 nuclear weapons, if it wants to.

The allegations fly in the face of India's ever-expanding nuclear power programme — as part of which it has recently approved the building of 10 pressurised heavy-water reactors.

However, it could be seen as a ploy to hurt India's chances of getting into the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG). 

The allegations

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, at his weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, May 18, spoke of "the risk of diversion by India to imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology received pursuant to civil nuclear accord and 2008 energy waiver by Nuclear Suppliers Group," according to Radio Pakistan. 

The report went on to add that Zakaria also "urged NSG members to consider risks involved in transfer of nuclear material to India and its NSG membership bid." It may be noted that India has been trying to get into the NSG for quite some time, but its efforts have been thwarted time and again by China, which has pointed out that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), like the rest of the members of the NSG. 

Nuclear threats... in Pakistan

While fears have been expressed over a possible India-Pakistan nuclear war breaking out, the apprehension is much more on securing nuclear warheads. On that front, Pakistan's steps to prevent its nuclear weapons from falling into wrong hands is much higher, according to many experts. 

Rose Gottemoeller, the then US under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, had in 2016, had said: "We have made our concerns known and we will continue to press them [Pakistan] about what we consider to be the destabilising aspects of their battlefield nuclear weapons programme." 

Kudankulam nuclear power plant
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant on its way to become 5th largest in the world Pictured: A policeman walks on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu September 13, 2012.Reuters

India's energy needs and NSG membership bid

While India may want Pakistan to fear its nuclear arsenal to deter aggression, but it is equally committed to the supply of electricity amid rising needs of it and a resolve to step away from fossil fuels. To that end, it is scrapping thermal power projects, and adding alternate sources to its power-generating capacity. 

Chief among these sources is nuclear plants, of which India already has a few in place and generating power. Addition to the NSG would mean India would have greater and better access to raw and fissile materials that would help it increase its nuclear power generation capacity.