India Thursday said it successfully test-fired a new missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Beijing – announcing itself as a major “missile power.”
Indian media showed video of the long-range Agni-V missile in-flight after its launch from a test range in the eastern state of Orissa. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization chief Vijay Saraswat later told Indian media that the country now has missile capabilities that match with the world’s elite military powers.
The Agni-V has a range of 5,000 kilometers and had been described as a “quantum leap” in India’s strategic capability – able to carry nuclear warheads as far as the Chinese capital as well as Shanghai.
China’s communist party newspaper, the Global Times, responded to India’s test launch with a warning of its own, saying “India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China” for the foreseeable future.
Prior to the test launch, Indian officials cautioned the missile should not be seen as a threat. Ravi Gupta, a spokesman for India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, said India has a “no first use” policy and that India’s missile systems are not “country specific.”
The United States has been calling on all nuclear powers to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington was aware of the impending test, adding that India has a solid non-proliferation record and is engaged with the international community on non-proliferation issues.
India has been testing its ballistic missile defense system since 2006. If it becomes viable, India would become one of the few nations with a working missile shield.