By Muneeza Naqvi
The Associated Press Writer
NEW DELHI (AP) — India again successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile on Sunday, Feb. 7, that can hit targets across much of Asia and the Middle East, a defense ministry press release said.
It was the fourth test of the Agni III missile, the statement added. The first attempt in 2006 failed, but the last two tests were successful.
“The Agni III missile tested for the full range, hit the target with pinpoint accuracy, and met all the mission objectives,” the press release added.
India’s current arsenal of missiles is largely intended for confronting archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India’s longest range missile, designed to reach 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) — putting China’s major cities well into range, as well as Middle Eastern targets.
India’s homegrown missile arsenal already includes the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, the anti-tank Nag, and the supersonic Brahmos missile, developed jointly with Russia.
The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa on Sunday morning.
The test appeared unlikely to significantly raise tensions in the region.
Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan usually notify each other ahead of such missile launches, in keeping with an agreement between the two nations. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
The two sides began talks aimed at resolving their differences over the Himalayan region of Kashmir and other disputes in 2004. India put the peace process on hold soon after terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, which India blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
India recently offered to restart peace talks, though Pakistan has yet to formally accept. ♦