India tests nuclear-capable missile

July 9th, 2006  

Topic: India tests nuclear-capable missile



BHUBANESHWAR, India (AFP) - India successfully carried out its first test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 kilometres (2,480 miles), defence officials said.

The Agni-III missile was launched from Wheeler Island, 180 kilometres northeast of Bhubaneshwar in the eastern state of Orissa, they said on condition of anonymity.

In May Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said the Agni-III, India's longest-range ballistic missile, was ready but that the country was observing "self-imposed restraint" before testing.

Opposition parties criticised the announcement, saying testing was being delayed because of pressure from the United States. New Delhi and Washington reached a landmark deal in March that will see sanctions lifted on India's access to civilian nuclear technology.

Sunday's test launch comes just four days after
North Korea sparked an international outcry by test-firing seven missiles.

A highly-placed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) source said the Indian test was "successful".

He said scientists had detected a snag in the booster rocket system of the Agni-III two weeks ago and had delayed its test. "Now we have papered over the problem and hence the launch window was chosen as Sunday," he said.

The missile was tracked during take-off, re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and splashdown in the Bay of Bengal, another defence official said.

The Agni (Fire) is one of five missiles being developed by the DRDO under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme launched in 1983. The others are the Prithvi, the surface-to-air Trishul (Trident), multi-purpose Akash (Sky), and the anti-tank Nag (Cobra).

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since independence in 1947, routinely notify each other of missile tests.

"We were informed about it," said Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam in Islamabad.

"It is a ballistic missile test and we have agreement on pre-notification of ballistic missile tests," she said. "We have no other reaction."

The two countries came to the brink of a fourth war in the summer of 2002 following a December 2001 attack on India's parliament by suspected Pakistan-backed militants. Islamabad denied any role in the attack.

But in January 2004 they began a peace process that has led to a ceasefire in the divided Himalayan state of
Kashmir, the cause of two of the wars.

In May 1998 India conducted five nuclear tests, citing China as a security threat. The tests were matched two weeks later by Pakistan which India says has received Chinese assistance for its nuclear programme, a claim denied by Beijing.

But tensions between China and India have lessened in the past two years. There have been direct military talks and the reopening last week of a famed Silk Road pass in the Himalayas, the first direct border trade between the Asian giants since a frontier war 44 years ago.

C. Uday Bhaskar, deputy head of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, said India's nuclear and missile programmes should not be seen as country-specific.

"Countries acquire strategic capabilities that are generic in nature. Our programme is not predicated on a single point threat. It is always in relation to the international strategic environment," Bhaskar said.-

July 10th, 2006  
Italian Guy
I hope the balance of MAD will prevent a war from outbreaking between Pakistan and India much like it happened with USA/USSR.
July 10th, 2006  
sorry dude, what I heard is that the missile had failed at some point in its flight.
NEW DELHI, July 9 — India test-fired its longest-range nuclear-capable missile on Sunday for the first time, government officials said. But although the missile was launched, it was unclear whether the entire test was successful, with at least one report saying that the missile had failed at some point in its flight.
The launching has occurred at a time of rising international tension over North Korea's recent missile tests, and as the United States Congress is considering a civilian nuclear pact that the Bush administration negotiated with India.
While the pact does not concern missile tests or other military activity, its critics say the Bush administration failed to obtain any commitment from India to stop producing new nuclear weapons fuel, or to restrict its production of new weapons. The test of the Agni 3 missile (agni means fire in Hindi) appeared intended to show that India's strategic arsenal could reach far beyond Pakistan and cover territory including China.
The missile is reported to have a range of more than 1,800 miles. The Defense Ministry said it had been launched from Wheeler Island, off the coast of Orissa State in the Bay of Bengal, and had taken off successfully.
But later, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted an unidentified military official as saying that the missile had developed troubles, perhaps in the firing of its second stage, and had not completed the test successfully.
A Defense Ministry spokesman, Sitanshu Kar, would not comment on the report other than to say, "The missile took off successfully, and the rest of the data need to be analyzed, in a day or two, to come to a conclusion."
India and neighboring Pakistan have often traded rounds of missile and nuclear tests in times of tension between them. But relations between the nations have improved lately, and the governments have a standing agreement to inform each other before such tests. On Sunday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry confirmed that India had told it about the test in advance.
While short-range missiles are enough to keep India and Pakistan in mutual range, analysts have seen India's development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the continuing development of its nuclear weapons program, as a strategic step to keep China in check. The listed range of the Agni 3, hundreds of miles longer than that of other missiles India has tested, would put more of China's major cities within striking distance.
In the past two years, tensions between India and China have lessened somewhat, and direct border trade between them reopened last week along the storied Silk Road through the Himalayas for the first time since they fought a war 44 years ago.
The BBC reported that before the launching on Sunday, India had twice postponed tests on the Agni 3, once for technical reasons and once because of concern about the international response while it was trying to seal its civilian nuclear deal with the Bush administration. In May, the Indian defense minister, Pranab Mukherjee, was quoted as saying that the missile was ready but that India was observing "self-imposed restraint" before testing.
The nuclear deal between India and the United States is under review by Congress and would, in effect, remove all United States restrictions on nuclear trade with India that are in place because India has refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The only other countries to refuse are Israel and Pakistan. North Korea withdrew from the treaty three years ago.
Under the deal, the United States would give vital help to the Indian civilian nuclear program, including uranium for fuel for civilian reactors. The United States would not provide any fuel for Indian weapons, but critics have pointed out that it would essentially free the limited Indian uranium supplies for weapons production. The agreement contains no restriction on how much or how fast India could increase the size of its nuclear arsenal.
Hari Kumar reported from New Delhi for this article, and David E. Sanger from Washington.

Similar Topics
understanding between china and india
Secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile
India basks in U.S. nuclear deal, but doubts surface
Indians are so treacherous -- Richard Nixon
India, China seek to resolve boundary dispute