INDIA has successfully conducted its first test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with the range to reach the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
The Agni-III missile which has a range of 4000km was launched today from Wheeler Island, 180km northeast of Bhubaneshwar in the eastern state of Orissa, defence officials 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 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 Program 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 rivals India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since independence in 1947, routinely notify each other of missile tests.
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 the two sides 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 Beijing's assistance for its nuclear program, a claim denied by China.
But tensions between China and India have abated in the past two years including 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 brutal frontier war 44 years ago.
C. Uday Bhaskar, deputy head of the government funded Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, said India's nuclear and missile programs should not be seen as country specific.
"Countries acquire strategic capabilities that are generic nature. Our program is not predicated on a single point threat. It is always in relation to the international strategic environment," Mr Bhaskar said.
conducted its first test of a nuclear capable medium-range ballistic missile with the range to reach the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai.The test of the Agni-III missile took place from Wheeler Island, 180km northeast of Bhubaneswar, capital of India's eastern Orissa state, defence officials said.
In May, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told a military function in New Delhi that the Agni-III was ready, but that the country was observing "self-imposed restraint" before testing.
The test launch comes just a day after North Korea sparked an international outcry by test-firing seven missiles without warning into the Sea of Japan.
I wonder how the world will react to this especially Pakistan, the US and China even though China and India resumed border trading through himalays several day ago.