India retests missile that can hit China

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

"The test was successful," said Mr Ravi Kumar Gupta, the 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 missile programme that began in the 1960s. Earlier versions could reach old rival Pakistan and western China.

The Agni-V missile was first tested in April last year. It is mostly domestically built and has a range of about 5,000km.

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