India test fires nuclear-capable missile

/ Source: The Associated Press

India test-launched a surface-to-surface missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons Sunday, a defense ministry spokesman said.

The Agni II missile lifted off from India’s missile testing range on the coast of eastern Orissa state, said Defense Ministry spokesman Amitabh Chakravorty.

This was the third trial of the Agni II missile, which has a range of up to 1,560 miles. The missile can carry conventional and nuclear warheads weighing a little more than a ton, according to defense ministry figures.

Indian authorities had informed their counterparts in Pakistan about the test ahead of the missile launch, B. S. Menon, a defense ministry official told The Associated Press.

India routinely test-fires missiles it is developing for military use. When it tests larger missiles, it gives notice to neighboring Pakistan, and Pakistan does likewise. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars.

Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee and over 100 scientists and military officials were on hand to witness the test launch, Menon said.

Scientists at India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, who have developed the missile, had earlier carried out trial runs of the missile in April 1999 and in January 2001.

Sunday’s test was satisfactory and met all the parameters that the scientists were checking, including its guidance accuracy and its performance, Menon said.

India’s missile arsenal includes the short-range ballistic missile Prithvi; the medium range Akash missile; the anti-tank Nag missile; and the supersonic Brahmos missile.