India tests nuclear capable missile with range as far as Beijing

India tests nuclear capable missile with range as far as Beijing
A surface-to-surface Agni V missile is launched from the Wheeler Island off the eastern Indian state of Odisha April 19, 2012. India test-fired the 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 5,000 km (3,100 miles) blasting through clouds from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.

BHUBANESWAR - India successfully test-fired for a second time a nuclear-capable missile on Sunday that can reach Beijing and much of Europe, bringing a step closer production of a weapon designed to strengthen its nuclear deterrent.

"The test was successful," said Ravi Kumar Gupta, spokesman for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)."It hit the target in a predefined trajectory. It met all the mission objectives" A video distributed by the DRDO showed the Agni-V rocket blasting off from a forest clearing on an island off India's east coast state of Odisha.

India is trying to keep up with China's growing military strength and wants to have a viable deterrent against its larger nuclear-armed neighbour.

The two countries have generally warm relations, but they fought a brief Himalayan war in 1962 and a build up of conventional defences along their disputed border is a source of tension.

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.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is increasing its arsenal of nuclear warheads and developing short-range, tactical nuclear weapons, raising concern about an escalating South Asian arms race, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Thursday.

The think-tank said in a report the race with Pakistan was increasing the risk of a nuclear exchange during a conventional conflict, perhaps sparked by an act of terrorism.

The Agni-V missile was first tested in April 2012. It is mostly domestically built and has a range of about 5,000 km (3,100 miles). 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.

Gupta said India was now ready to start a process of production and subsequent induction of the missile.

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