India’s secret ICBM ambitions

Official Indian sources say India is capableof building an ICBM with a range of 5,500 km, but some dream a rocketthat could reach 15,000 km. The development worries China, but NewDelhi downplays the issue saying that it is only pursuing its ownsecurity. 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'sDefence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which said that ithad 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 missileswith a range of 5,500km but the decision to develop an ICBM has to betaken by the political leadership,” DRDO Chief M. Natarajan said.
Last Thursday, the DRDO test-fired theintermediate-range Agni-III missile which has a range of 3,500 km(2,200 miles) and can carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear or conventionalpayload. This is within striking distance of Beijing and Shanghai.
India’s other long-time rivalPakistan was already vulnerable to India’s Agni-I (700-800 km range) eAgni-II (more than 2,000 km range).
Agni-III project Chief Avinash Chander said that asecond test of the intermediate-range missile would take place inAugust or October.
Referring to Pakistan and China, former DRDO Chief K.Santhanam said that “India does not plan to be a global superpower butin the regional perspective a 3,500-plus-kilometre range IRBM(intermediate-range ballistic missile) is enough to deter adventurismfrom across our two borders.”
Commenting on the development, official sources saidthat the test was carried out with the tacit approval of the UnitedStates which looks favourably to India’s power as a counterbalance toChina.
In Beijing authorities reacted by saying that theyhope that a country as important as India would work to maintain andpromote peace and stability in the region.
In order to allay any concern, New Delhi said thatthe new missile was not intended to threaten any country but only toincrease its national security.
China and North Korea helpedPakistan develop the Shaheen 2 missile which has a range of more than2,000 km. The rocket was tested in March 2004 and puts the whole ofIndia within a striking distance.
India started working secretlyon nuclear weapons after China conducted its first atomic test in1964—two years after Beijing fought a brief but bloody border war withits neighbour.
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 inpublic—remains an ICBM with a 15,000 km range, named ‘Surya’ or Sun,that could strike US cities. (PB)
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