China plays it cool over Indian missile launch

From India, with aspirations. The Agni V has a range of 5,000 kilometres and can carry a one-tonne warhead. [Reuters]

From India, with aspirations. The Agni V has a range of 5,000 kilometres and can carry a one-tonne warhead. [Reuters]

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Richard Lindell, New Delhi, on world reaction

Created: 19/04/2012

AUDIO from Radio Australia Asia Pacific

Dr Monika Chansoria, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi

Created: 19/04/2012

Last Updated: Fri, 20 Apr 2012 03:56:00 +1000

China has down-played any sense of rivalry with India after the test launch of a new Indian missile capable of hitting targets throughout China.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing noted the launch, but described India and China as "partners, not competitors" who had worked hard to maintain regional peace and stability.

However, a Chinese state TV report listed the new Agni-V missile's shortcomings and a state-run newspaper warned India not to get arrogant and overestimate its strength.

The 50-tonne missile is capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead.

Indian officials said it would it would take time to evaluate the success of the launch.

But an Indian warfare expert told Radio Australia India had achieved "the minimal credible deterrent" against Chinese arms with the Agni launch.


US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the United States was aware of the test plans but has not "specifically" raised the issue with India.

"I just would say that we urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities," he said. "That said, India has a solid non-proliferation record."

The nuclear capable missile has a range of 5,000 kilometres and can carry a one-tonne warhead.

The Agni V test is seen as a major step in India's efforts to become a regional power that can counter Chinese dominance.

Earlier versions of the Agni are capable of striking targets across traditional rival Pakistan and deep into China.

But the Agni V extends that reach to Chinese military installations in the far north-east.

Elite club

Dr Monika Chansoria, a senior fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi says the firing puts India "in a very elite club of countries"

She told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific program: "Until now, only the P5 nations - the UN Security Council members - had the ICBM (intercontinental missile) capability and today, India, with its indigenous missile program, has entered that club."

Has the long-range missile test upped the stakes in Asia, particularly with China?

"We are the ones who have to catch up with the capabilities that have been prevalent in our neighbourhood.

"China: they've already had the ICBM capability for a very long time. The Chinese technological capabilities in terms of missile and nuclear arsenal is way ahead of India.

"And the Chinese already have missile systems which can target the length and breadth of India as a country, but we did not have that capability.

"With the Agni V, we have the capability of targeting perhaps even the northernmost parts of China, including cities such as Harbin."

Dr Chansoria claimed: "So in a sense, the Indian aim of trying to achieve the minimal credible deterrent, in terms of strategic strands, has been achieved today, with this missile test."

The researcher said she did not believe it would trigger an arms race.

"If at all, it would bring some sort a parity in stabilisiing the situation, because currently, India always had the fear of Chinese long-range missiles."


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