CALCUTTA, India, (AP) – India successfully test-fired Wednesday a nuclear-capable missile that can hit targets from Beijing to Baghdad, the Defense Ministry said.
It was the third test of the Agni III missile. The first attempt failed two years ago, but last year’s was a success. Wednesday’s repeat performance reaffirmed India’s place in “the select band of countries who have such surface-to-surface intermediate range ballistic missile capability as a deterrent,” said Indian air force Group Capt. R.K. Das, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
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 1,900 miles — putting China’s major cities well into range, as well as targets deep in the Middle East.
The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa on Wednesday morning. It is believed capable of carrying up to a 300-kiloton nuclear warhead.
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.