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India missile test has few critics, unlike North Korea
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s successful test of a powerful new missile that can carry nuclear weapons to Beijing caused barely a ripple — even in China — just days after North Korea was globally vilified for its own failed rocket launch.
“It’s not the spear, but who holds the spear that matters,” said Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst in India. “North Korea is a condemned nation. It’s a pariah country. Its record of breaking nuclear agreements is well known. India has emerged in that sense as a fairly responsible country.”
The muted response to Thursday morning’s test underscores how far India has come in gaining acceptance for its nuclear program. After India tested its first nuclear bomb in 1974, the U.S. put it under sanctions for a quarter century.
But last decade, the U.S. removed the sanctions and eventually ratified in 2008 a landmark deal to allow civilian nuclear trade that effectively accepted India as a nuclear nation.
India hailed its test of the Agni-V missile as a significant step forward in its aspirations to become a regional and world power.
The missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), still requires a battery of tests and must clear other bureaucratic hurdles before it can be inducted into India’s arsenal in a few years.
The differences between the two launches were clear before they even got under way.
North Korea insisted its rocket launch on Sunday was merely part of its civilian space program aimed at putting an observation satellite into orbit. The U.S. and other countries called it a thin excuse to test technology for firing a long-range missile fitted with a nuclear warhead. The launch failed when the rocket broke apart soon after takeoff.
India was clear from the start that it was testing a nuclear capable missile that could reach major Chinese cities.
The government hailed it as a success, releasing video showing the Agni-V taking off from a small launcher on what appeared to be railroad tracks at 8:07 a.m. from Wheeler Island off India’s east coast. It rose on a pillar of flame, trailing billows of smoke behind, before arcing through the sky.
The missile hit an altitude of more than 600 kilometers (370 miles), its three stages worked properly and its payload was deployed as planned, the head of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, Vijay Saraswat, told Times Now news channel.
“India has emerged from this launch as a major missile power,” he said.
By Donald Lambro
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