India test launches Agni-V long-range missile


The launch of the Agni-V missile on Thursday morning

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India has successfully launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile able to carry a nuclear warhead, officials say.

The Agni-V was launched from a site off India's east coast and took about 20 minutes to hit its target somewhere near Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.

The missile has a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), potentially bringing targets in China within range.

India said the launch was "flawless" and the missile had reached its target.

"The ships located in mid-range and at the target point have tracked the vehicle [missile] and witnessed the final event," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) spokesman Ravi Gupta said.

With this, India joins an elite nuclear club of China, Russia, France, the US and UK which already have long-range missiles, although with a much greater range. Israel is also thought to possess them.

"It was a perfect launch. It met all the test parameters and hit its pre-determined target," SP Das, director of the test range, told the BBC. He confirmed the missile had flown more than 5,000km before reaching the target.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the scientists for the "successful launch" of the missile. It was launched from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa at 0807 local time (0237GMT) on Thursday.


With the launch of locally-developed Agni-V, India has joined a small group of countries - up to now only the nuclear-armed powers - with inter-continental range ballistic missiles.

A successful test flight of the missile will strengthen India's nuclear deterrence once it comes into service by 2014-15.

With a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), the Agni-V is capable of delivering a single 1.5-ton warhead deep inside nuclear rival China's territory.

"Today's launch represents another milestone in our quest for our security, preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science," Mr Singh said.

'Historic moment'

The BBC's Andrew North in Delhi says Indian officials deny it, but everyone believes the missile is mainly aimed at deterring China.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Liu Weimin, said his country was not threatened by the test.

"China and India are large developing nations. We are not competitors but partners," he said.

"We believe that both sides should cherish the hard-won good state of affairs at present, and work hard to uphold friendly strategic co-operation to promote joint development and make positive contributions towards maintaining peace and stability in the region."

Earlier, the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) said the test was "a historic moment for India and it shows that India has joined the club of the countries that own ballistic missiles", Associated Press reported.

CCTV listed some of the missile's shortcomings and said "it does not pose a threat in reality".

But the Agni-V will now in theory allow India to fire nuclear warheads at Beijing and Shanghai, defence analysts say.

It was only launched once officials were sure they had the best weather conditions - so this was as much a demonstration as a real test, to show India's rivals that it has this kind of capability, our correspondent says.

"Agni-V is to meet our present-day threat perceptions, which are determined by our defence forces and other agencies," DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta told AFP news agency ahead of the launch.

"This is a deterrent to avoid wars and it is not country-specific," he said.

Analysts say the Agni (meaning "fire" in Hindi and Sanskrit) missile family is to be the cornerstone of India's missile-based nuclear deterrent.

The Agni-V is 17.5m tall, solid-fuelled, has three stages and a launch weight of 50 tons. It has cost more than 2.5bn rupees ($480m; £307m) to develop.

The missiles are among the country's most sophisticated weapons.

In 2010, India successfully test-fired Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000km (1,250 miles).

Agni V graphic

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  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    speechless ! why india an pakistan waste all this money whilst their nation can't feed or live well. india even worse they spent lots on F1 so they host the event once a year !

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Comment number 428. Mr_UK
    "I have only one thing to say to all those who are posting routine negative comments citing irrelevant contexts like western aid, poverty in India, corruption in india etc - you are jealous, or ignorant, or ill informed."

    Explain how these are 'irrelevant contexts'? India should be paying to look after its people, instead we're doing it for them. Logic, much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    @suzy, thanks for enlightening us the lesser mortals. Practice what you preach. First disarm yourself and then preach others. You do not have any right to tell others not to acquire any nuclear weapon when you yourself have thousands of them. And NPT never had a time frame for disarmament. I guess you can work out the logic from there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    Well done India.

    I have only one thing to say to all those who are posting routine negative comments citing irrelevant contexts like western aid, poverty in India, corruption in india etc - you are jealous, or ignorant, or ill informed. There are many countries that can spend £307m/$500m, but how many have the ingenuity to build something as spohisticated as Agni?

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Let me get this straight. The United Kindom, is still sending millions in aid to India, which can afford intercontinental missiles, while we are closing institutions and reducing much needed funding to public services. I am in favour of helping less fortunate populations, but looking at this annoucment, I feel conned. Time to wake up and start taking more care of our own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    Following on N. Korea's failed test, there is more of politics & brinkmanship in this successful launch than anything else. It also feels like a psychological attack on China (which of course would delight the US). However, I wonder where these poor countries get money for missiles: It must come at the cost of its poor unless some developed country is behind the curtain - "helping".

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    416. suzy

    I'm confused about what point you have actually been trying to make. Can you spell it out more clearly for the slow people (ie me)

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    India has met the unofficial criteria for becoming a Permanent member of the Security Council of the UN.

    Perhaps it is time to make her a Permanent member.

    Ther's no mechanism for this, so an update of the UN Charter would be necessary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Nothing wrong with India having a space programme or even a nuclear one, they provide both valuable research and huge amounts of reliable power, vital for a developing nation. What is wrong is to deviate into production of nuclear weapons, there is no need, they only provide fear and decrease national security. Utterly pointless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    So India have test-fired a WMD delivery system - what is next - test-firing a WMD?

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    The war talk is not coming from the Indian government, but from independent defence analysts. Don't you think independent analysts need to be provocative to be quoted by BBC?

    Fact remains that India is under a significant threat from China - due to policy differences (e.g. Tibet), border and economic (domination over natural resources). In this light the nuke program is an insurance policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    "2.5bn rupees ($480m; £307m)" A quick google states "37.2% of Indians live below the country's national poverty line" of $1.25US/day. (2010)
    Proud day but your 2.5bn rupees now sits at the bottom of the Indian Ocean - Expensive way of flexing muscle, Now food and shelter people could use that today...

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    If ANY country can afford to develope Nukes and/or Missiles, the west (ie the US, UK, and EU, should stop ALL aid immediately! This should also include Pakistan, India, Israel and any others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    398. Colin T in Coventry
    I wonder if the British and US Governments criticise this action as happened when North Korea tried something similar a couple pf weeks ago......
    Are we talking of double standards here?
    No we're not. India doesn't have UN resolutions banning missile tests against it, its not legally at war with its neighbour and its not firing missiles over other nations airspace!

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Ohoooooooooooooo !!
    India is a democratic country and good intentions. It is not going to strike anyone, atleast it says it wont be the first to stike.
    Good work guys

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.


    The whole point of the NPT is for countries that have WMD's to dispose of them and make them redundant and share peaceful ways of using nuclear technology. CTBT is to stop countries from testing ABM.

    Logging off bored of explaining to people what the treaty's stand for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Not many comments from North Koreans or Chinese on here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    @ Ramki & Kia - Who are we to judge that? To them; this is the government that they have chosen and they have the right to defend themselves. India, China or any other country with weapons will use them protect themselves and their interests. Why can't they? Just because the news paints them as tyrannical leaders. Judge for yourself the media coverage of this vs. the NK launch a few days back...

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    @Space freak, I don't have any issues if people say what we did was wrong. Even I would like a nuclear weapons free planet. But the reality is different.
    What annoys me is people saying you are poor so don't do this. We give you aid so do this.Everyone is entitled to their opinion but please don't force it down our throat.
    And I am sorry for the "whining" statement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    #54.DV Pillai wrote:
    "Those who cry about UK's assistance may be pleased to know that India is spending $12 billion for 120 fighter jets."

    Yes, French ones! And I wonder how much of the $12 billion will end up in dodgy Swiss bank accounts?


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