India missile test 'hits target'

2012-04-19 09:01

Bhubaneswar - India test-fired a long range missile capable of reaching deep into China and Europe on Thursday, thrusting the emerging Asian power into an elite club of nations with intercontinental nuclear weapons capabilities.

A scientist at the launch site said the launch was successful, minutes after television images showed the rocket with a range of more than 5 000km blasting through clouds from an island off India's east coast.

"It has met all the mission objectives," SP Dash, director of the test range, said. "It hit the target with very good accuracy."

The Indian-made Agni V is the crowning achievement of a now-mothballed missile programme developed primarily with a possible threat from neighbouring China in mind.

Only the UN Security Council permanent members - China, France, Russia the United States and Britain - along with Israel, are believed to have such long-range weapons.

Fast emerging as a world economic power, India is keen to play a larger role on the global stage and has long angled for a permanent seat on the Security Council. In recent years it has emerged as the world's top arms importer as it rushes to upgrade equipment for a large but outdated military.

No criticism

"It is one of the ways of signalling India's arrival on the global stage, that India deserves to be sitting at the high table," said Harsh Pant, a defence expert at King's College, London, describing the launch as a "confidence boost".

The launch, which was flagged well in advance, has attracted none of the criticism from the West faced by hermit state North Korea for a failed bid to send up a similar rocket last week.

But China noted the launch with disapproval.

"The West chooses to overlook India's disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties," China's Global Times newspaper said in an editorial published before the launch, which was delayed by a day because of bad weather.

"India should not overestimate its strength," said the paper, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party's main mouthpiece the People's Daily.

India has not signed the non-proliferation treaty for nuclear nations, but enjoys a de facto legitimacy for its arsenal, boosted by a landmark 2008 deal with the United States.

Nuclear submarine

On Wednesday, Nato said it did not consider India a threat. The US State Department said India's non-proliferation record was "solid", while urging restraint.

India says its nuclear weapons programme is for deterrence only. It is close to completing a nuclear submarine that will increase its ability to launch a counter strike if it were attacked.

India lost a brief Himalayan border war with its larger neighbour, China, in 1962 and has ever since strived to improve its defences. In recent years the government has fretted over China's enhanced military presence near the border.

Thursday's launch may prompt a renewed push from within India's defence establishment to build a fully fledged intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme capable of reaching the Americas, though some of India's allies may bridle at such an ambition.

"Policy-wise it becomes more complicated from now on, until Agni V, India really has been able to make a case about its strategic objectives, but as it moves into the ICBM frontier there'll be more questions asked," said Pant.

The Agni V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of a programme that started in the 1960s. Earlier versions could reach old rival Pakistan and Western China.

"India can now deter China, it can impose maximum possible punishment if China crosses the red line," Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese studies at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University said.

The rocket is powered by easier-to-use solid rocket propellants and can be transported by road.

  • Paul - 2012-04-19 09:16

    Double Standards

      Skoees - 2012-04-19 09:51

      May be so. But India has never been the Aggressor in a conflict.

      Fidel - 2012-04-19 13:02

      And Iran? Enough please of the wiping off the earth propaganda BS!

      Fred - 2012-04-19 13:12

      It's the Information Age Fidel. Iran's threats to destroy Israel, its funding of terrorism, and denial of the Holocaust, the biggest attempt at human genocide in the history of humankind, is recorded fact for all to see.

  • Hallo - 2012-04-19 10:01

    Where are the sanctions now?

      Trevor Kahn - 2012-04-19 10:35

      India has never threatened another country or said it wants to eliminate another country from the face of the earth! Why should there be sanctions?

      talha.rawat - 2012-04-19 11:00

      actually trevor, india has always been at loggerheads with its neighbouring pakistan.. given the opportunity the would in fact wipe pakistan 'from the face of the earth'.. That besides the fact that they werent in a position of dominance to threaten any country before.. Now that they have nuclear capable weaponry, we shall see..

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 11:07

      @talha.rawat India and Pakistan have had nukes for years, this missile just allows them to hit major centres in Europe and China that they have not been able to before, they could easily have delivered a nuke to a target in Pakistan for decades

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 11:08

      @Hallo India is not a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty so are not breaking international law

      Fidel - 2012-04-19 13:04

      @Trevor Can you please point me to where Iran has threatned to wipe another country of the map. Considering Israeli expansion, who is wiping who off the map? Look at the map of Israel/Palestine through the years. Your consent has been manufactured.

      Fred - 2012-04-19 13:11

      Typical lies and irresponsibility from you Fidel. When countries invade another, and that country manages to defend itself and gain territory, it is an accepted norm that the invaded country gets to keep the gained territory. Moral of the story: don''t invade the country.

      Trevor Kahn - 2012-04-19 16:47

      Firstly pakistan ( let's us remind ourselves, harboured Osama bin laden and which is a lying corrupt state) has always threatened India... Which in turn india has had to protect itself... Secondly Iran threatens to wipe out the whole western civilisation.

  • uwe.klopfer - 2012-04-19 11:42

    while i don't condone warfare and think nuclear weapons shouldn't exist, I am anti Chinese (and not pro America either) and a since we already have so many nuclear weapons in the world I am in a sick kind of way happy that India can now be a buffer against Chinese aggression and Chinese imperialism (how else do you explain Tibet and Taiwan ?). The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Yes double standards from West maybe...however India doesn't have imperial tendencies, aggressive tendencies like china, North Korea and Iran (sponsoring terrorists). India has a much much better human rights record than most other nations in Asia...

      Fidel - 2012-04-19 13:10

      What utter tosh. You hate China's rise because they are not caucasian, simple as that. Where is the Chinese Imperialism you are referring to. Both Taiwan and Tibet have always been part of China. It's called reclaimation and not annexation. Consider the US with over 200 military bases spread all over the world, who do you thing is involved in empire building, having slaughtered millions of people around the world since the end of WW11. You Sir are befallen with whitemen's exceptionalism!

      Fred - 2012-04-19 13:19

      Exactly when and where did the US "slaughter millions of people around the world" Fidel?

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 13:22

      China gained tibet in modern times, if we use the same rational, Europe will have claim to all of Africa then

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 13:22

      Taiwan was Japanese for most of modern history

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 13:26

      Further more, China's Imperialist ambitions include the whole of the south china sea, up to foreign land masses even though they have never controlled it. They are also in conflict with almost every country in the region with china trying to claim their territory, India' included. Furthermore, less than a week ago the Philippines navy where chased by Chinese war vessels in their own economic waters

      DSBennie - 2012-04-19 13:27

      China's Imperial Claims

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