India Cancels Agni III Test

India Cancels Agni III Test

India Cancels Agni III Test

The Agni III (pictured) is said to be able to deliver a 440-pound to 550-pound warhead with a high degree of accuracy.

The Indian government has decided to cancel the first test-firing of its Agni III inter-continental ballistic missile.

The Agni III was the pride of the Indian strategic missile program and was designed to have a range of at least 1,400 miles, and possibly as far as 2,000 miles, giving it the capability of hitting cities across southern China with nuclear weapons.

According to a report in Asia Times Online May 25, U.S. pressure may have played a role in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to cancel the test, which has angered pro-military hawks in the Indian defense establishment and right-wing Hindu nationalists.

“The United States has always been very suspicious about India’s Agni program, and in 1994 persuaded it to suspend testing of (earlier, shorter-range versions of) the missile after three test flights,” theAsia Times Online report said. The U.S.-backed Missile Technology Control Regime seeks to prevent the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering an 1,100-pound payload over distances of more than 180 miles.

“Decisions concerning the country’s strategic program, including the development and testing of different classes of missiles, are based on technical factors and a continuous review and assessment of our overall security environment,” an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

The Agni III is said to be able to deliver a 440-pound to 550-pound warhead with a high degree of accuracy. The longest-range, surface-to-surface Agni III has reportedly been ready for launch for two years, but the tests have been repeatedly postponed, Asia Times Online said.

India’s military capabilities and arsenal are developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization which works in close coordination with space and nuclear-power institutions. “There is no doubt that it is the shadow of Washington and access to nuclear energy that finally tilted the scales against the Agni III.” the Asian Times Online report said

Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that self-imposed “restraint” was behind India’s failure to test-fire the Agni III.

“Self-restraint does not mean that the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) can’t go ahead with cold-bed tests for the missile’s subsystems,” he said.

However, Jane’s Defense Weekly noted on May 24 that Indian analysts have said Mukherjee’s “ambiguous” explanation was due to “sensitive and crucial” diplomatic and strategic talks with the United States and China. New Delhi did not want the Agni III to be a stumbling block during Mukherjee’s visit to Beijing this week. Missile tests could also hamper U.S. congressional ratification of the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement offered by the United States, Jane’s Defense Weekly said.

An Agni III test launch would also send the “wrong signals” to the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Rio de Janeiro in June, an Indian official told Jane’s.

However its understandable that the pro-nuclear hawks in the US is gunning for bush’s blood and specefically in this time when the crucial Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation treaty is to be introduced in the senate, the reason behind the canceling of the test

Knowledge needs to be free!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.