Although Canada provided India with its first nuclear reactor ccnr, much of the fuel for India's reactors have come from Russia India Times. India asserts that the atomic weapons program was entirely indigenous.

Despite that assertion, the original poster and many others believe that India's nuclear weapons program was assisted by Russia. For the purposes of this question, assume that the Soviet Union did assist India's nuclear weapons program.

Why? What Soviet national interests would have been advanced by the assistance?

Please answer with research, short of book length, without reference to counterfactuals.

  • 5
    Where did you gather this from? India's weapon development seems to be mostly done at home (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiling_Buddha). – Apoorv Khurasia Aug 25 '13 at 1:34
  • @MonsterTruck That article does acknowledge Russian help. – Lennart Regebro Aug 25 '13 at 11:12
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    "From what I gathered...." Since this seems to have created controversy, perhaps you could cite the research that led you to this conclusion. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 25 '13 at 13:28
  • 1
    @LennartRegebro the USSR and later Russia sold military equipment to India and accepted Indians into their universities, they did not sell of give away nuclear weapons as is claimed. – jwenting Aug 26 '13 at 5:24
  • 2
    I have recast the question as a yes-no question that can now be answered factually. Can it now be re-opened? – Tom Au Aug 26 '13 at 14:51

The military relations between India and Russia is based on "India's needs and Russia's opportunism".
India needs technology and Russia provides it, by selling it. By this Russia gets lot of money, a friend and balance against West(until cold war) and a counterweight to threats from China and Islamist fundamentalits. The new relation(post cold war) is primarily of business interest.


There is certainly a very thin line between civilian nuclear program and nuclear weapons program and most of the times we confuse them with each other. India has indeed benefited from various nations in her civilian nuclear program which includes US, Canada, France etc. Russia too fits, equally, into this list.

But India has not taken any direct help for her nuclear weapons program from any nation. And, Indo-US nuclear deal is a proof of this. India is the only nation who have not signed NPT and CTBT and still major powers are willing to make nuclear agreements with India and is getting NSG waivers. If India had proliferated its nuclear weapons technology no such things were possible.

Russia did not arm India with nuclear weapons. It was India who armed herself with nuclear weapons as a deterrence to her unfriendly neighbors particularly China. However, India had significantly taken advantage of technology and equipment and nuclear fuel given by other nations for her civilian nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons.

It is a recent (Jan,2003) CIA mid-term report that claims:

Russia has significantly supported in developing India’s nuclear programmes with technology and equipment, and become a main source of arms for the country.

Here the 'nuclear program' is civilian nuclear program and 'arms' are non-nuclear arms like tanks, planes and other military hardware.

It also states that this technology and equipment was given to China and Iran too.

The main motivation for this help, as CIA report claims:

Russia’s cash-strapped defence, biotechnology, chemical, aerospace and nuclear industries, are eager to raise funds via exports and transfers.

for this funds,

Russian President Vladimir Putin in May 2000 amended the presidential decree on nuclear exports to allow Russia to export nuclear materials, technology and equipment to countries that do not have full-scope IAEA safeguards.

So, it is not Russia who is arming India. But its India, who is arming herself as a necessity for national security.


  1. CIA reports: 1. the Dawn and 2. express india

  2. Sublette, Carey. "Origins of Indian nuclear program"

  3. JFK's Overshadowed Crisis

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