Wednesday, April 18, 2012
India Says It Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile
With the successful launching of the missile, called Agni 5, India joins a small group of countries with long-range nuclear missile capability, including China, Britain, France, Russia and the United States.
“Agni 5 will give India complete coverage of targets in China,” Poornima Subramaniam, an Asia-Pacific armed forces analyst at IHS Jane’s, said in an e-mail. “Agni 5 technologically narrows the missile gap between India and China, while the strategic balance between the two rivals is still tipped in China’s favor.”
The launching of the Agni 5, which occurred at 8:07 a.m. from an island off India’s east coast, is part of the country’s decades-old missile program. India has a policy of no first use.
India started its missile development program in 1983 and inducted the first missile in 1989. Since then the country has progressed and in November last year, it tested the Agni 4, which can hit targets up to 1,830 miles. It will soon be given to the army for operational uses; the Agni 1, Agni 2 and Agni 3 were also given to the army.
The launching comes during growing international apprehension over military concerns across Asia and a growing strategic rivalry between the United States and China in Asia. In March, China announced a double-digit increase in military spending.
Earlier this week, North Korea said it was abandoning an agreement it made in February with the United States, in which it promised to suspend uranium enrichment, nuclear tests and long-range missile tests. Last week North Korea defied international warnings and unsuccessfully launched a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead.
India’s Agni 5, a multimillion-dollar project, can hit targets in all of Asia, Africa and Europe. It weighs about 50 tons, measures 17 meters long, reaches 480 miles into the sky and, at speeds of 4,200 miles per hour, travels faster than a bullet. It can also be launched from a roadside mobile platform.
"We have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve in this mission," Avinash Chandra, mission director for the test, told the Times Now news channel on Thursday.
China has a missile that can hit targets to at least 6,000 miles, and Pakistan’s missile capacity is to at least 720 miles.
“India has two nuclear armed adversaries and needs to create minimal deterrence,” said Wing Cmdr. Ajey Lele, an expert of strategic technologies at the government aided Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis in New Delhi. The Agni 5 will be ready for operational use by 2014.