Official Indian sources say India is capable
of building an ICBM with a range of 5,500 km, but some dream a rocket
that could reach 15,000 km. The development worries China, but New
Delhi downplays the issue saying that it is only pursuing its own
security. Meanwhile scientific work continues.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India can extend the range of its nuclear range beyond Asia. The announcement was made by the Indian government’s
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which said that it
had the technology to build inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM)
that could extend nuclear-armed India’s reach even beyond Asia. For some India harbours a secret ambition to develop an ICBM that could reach the United States.
“We have achieved the capability to make missiles
with a range of 5,500km but the decision to develop an ICBM has to be
taken by the political leadership,” DRDO Chief M. Natarajan said.
Last Thursday, the DRDO test-fired the
intermediate-range Agni-III missile which has a range of 3,500 km
(2,200 miles) and can carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear or conventional
payload. This is within striking distance of Beijing and Shanghai.
India’s other long-time rival
Pakistan was already vulnerable to India’s Agni-I (700-800 km range) e
Agni-II (more than 2,000 km range).
Agni-III project Chief Avinash Chander said that a
second test of the intermediate-range missile would take place in
August or October.
Referring to Pakistan and China, former DRDO Chief K.
Santhanam said that “India does not plan to be a global superpower but
in the regional perspective a 3,500-plus-kilometre range IRBM
(intermediate-range ballistic missile) is enough to deter adventurism
from across our two borders.”
Commenting on the development, official sources said
that the test was carried out with the tacit approval of the United
States which looks favourably to India’s power as a counterbalance to
In Beijing authorities reacted by saying that they
hope that a country as important as India would work to maintain and
promote peace and stability in the region.
In order to allay any concern, New Delhi said that
the new missile was not intended to threaten any country but only to
increase its national security.
China and North Korea helped
Pakistan develop the Shaheen 2 missile which has a range of more than
2,000 km. The rocket was tested in March 2004 and puts the whole of
India within a striking distance.
India started working secretly
on nuclear weapons after China conducted its first atomic test in
1964—two years after Beijing fought a brief but bloody border war with
New Delhi detonated its first atom bomb in 1974 and in 1998 declared itself a full-fledged member of the nuclear weapons state club.
For some experts the DRDO’s dream—denied in
public—remains an ICBM with a 15,000 km range, named ‘Surya’ or Sun,
that could strike US cities. (PB)