Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Launching itself into an elite club of nations with the
capability of hitting targets 5,000 km away, India Thursday
successfully tested a long-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile
that can reach Beijing and Shanghai in China, and all of Pakistan.
With its launch from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast at 8.07
a.m., India also emerged as a major missile powerhouse of the
world, having developed Agni-V almost entirely indigenously over
the last four years. The missile, described as "China-killer",
carries a warhead weighing more than a tonne.
With the development, India also stormed into an elite, exclusive
club of nations comprising US, Russia, China, France and Britain
-- all UN Security Council members -- that have this capability.
Reaction came in swiftly from China, where foreign ministry
spokesperson Liu Weimin downplayed the tests, saying: "China and
India are both big emerging countries, we are not rivals but
However, state-run Global Times was not so cautious and said that
India may have missiles that can reach most Chinese territory, but
it stands "no chance in an overall arms race". It added that New
Delhi would gain nothing by stirring "further hostility".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed the successful test as
"another milestone" in the country's "quest for security,
preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science".
He congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation
(DRDO) and other organisations, which had worked tirelessly in the
endeavour to strengthen the defence and security of the country.
At the test site, there was jubilation.
"The three-stage Agni-V missile's entire performance has been
successfully demonstrated. All mission objectives and operational
targets have been met," DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat told reporters.
"India is today a nation with proven capability to design, develop
and produce a long-range ballistic missile. India is a missile
power now," an exultant Saraswat said.
"It was a fantastic launch. It hit the target with high accuracy,"
S.P. Dash, the director of the test range, told IANS.
During the Thursday test, the 17.5-metre long, 50-tonne Agni-V
reached an altitude of 600 km and attained a velocity of 7,000
metres per second, which enabled the missile to achieve its
intended target range. The missile system can be transported by
road or rail.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony spoke to Saraswat and Agni-V Project
Director Avinash Chander and congratulated them for "this
immaculate success", defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar
Antony also recalled "the untiring contributions" of former DRDO
chief M. Natarajan.
It was a moment that also saw the opposition Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) hail the "proud milestone in the security of the
nation since India has now become a missile power".
The party's president Nitin Gadkari said in a statement that the
launch had raised India to the "elite club of nations".
The Indian defence ministry had first described Agni-V as an
inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a statement, but
soon retracted it and called the missile a long range ballistic
Agni-V's range is 500-km short of an ICBM, for which the world
standard is 5,500-km range.
China's Dongfeng-31A ICBM has a range of 11,500 km and can easily
hit targets across entire Asia and as far as eastern Europe.
Following Thursday's test, Agni-V will go through more tests
before it is inducted into the armed forces by the end of 2014 or
India maintains a 'no-first-strike' nuclear doctrine, and Agni-V
and the 3,500-km-range Agni-IV missile, which was successfully
tested in November 2011, are to provide the country's strategic
forces 'a second strike' capability against a nuclear attack from