- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

NEW DELHI (AP) | India on Sunday launched the first nuclear-powered submarine built on its soil, asserting itself as a world power by joining just five other countries that can design and construct such vessels.

The 367-foot-long submarine, named “Arihant” or “Destroyer of Enemies,” was sent for sea trials at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

It will be capable of launching nuclear weapons, said Rahul Bedi, an analyst with Jane’s Defense Weekly.

That would complete India’s strategic triad for nuclear weapons — giving it the ability to deliver them from the air, ground-based mobile platforms and the sea, he said.

Mr. Singh called the project a “historic milestone in the country’s defense preparedness.”

India is upgrading its armed forces as part of efforts to match its military strength with its growing economic and political clout. The plans include a proposed $9 billion purchase of 126 new fighter jets.

Mr. Singh insisted that the nation does not seek to threaten anyone.

“Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide,” he said at the launching ceremony in the southern port city of Vishakhapatnam.

Previously, only the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China had developed nuclear submarines.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan, India’s neighbor and longtime rival. The submarine’s development is likely to rattle Islamabad, which has fought three wars with India, two of them over control of the Kashmir region, since it won independence from Britain in 1947.

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