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India Declares Itself Major Missile Power


India's Agni-V missile lifts off from the launch pad at Wheeler Island off India's east coast, April 19, 2012.

India's Agni-V missile lifts off from the launch pad at Wheeler Island off India's east coast, April 19, 2012.

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.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the country's scientists for contributing to the country's "self reliance in defense." India's Defense Research and Development Organization chief Vijay Saraswat told Indian media that the country now has missile capabilities that match with the world's elite military powers.

"The successful launch of Agni V missile is a tribute to the sophistications and commitment to national causes on the part of India's scientific technological community," said Singh. "I congratulate all the scientists and technologists who have been associated with this important project and I sincerely hope that in years to come our scientists and technologists will contribute a lot more to promoting self reliance in defense and other walks of national life."



About the missile

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.

When asked about the launch at a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China and India are not competitors, but partners. He said both sides should work together to deepen strategic cooperation, promote mutual development and maintain peace and stability in the region.

Chinese warning

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.

India's longtime rival, Pakistan, had no official reaction to the missile launch. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazam Ahmad Khan said Thursday that Pakistan was informed of the missile test prior to the launch in accordance with a standing bilateral agreement.

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."

In Washington Thursday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the United States urges all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint.

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.

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