Washington: The successful launch of India’s long-range nuclear-capable missile was given prominent display in dailies across the world, including the US, Britain and South Asia, with most highlighting the fact that the Agni-V could reach China.
Dramatic images of the missile, which has a range of 5,000 km, lifting off from its launch pad in India’s Odisha state accompanied the story.
The New York Times wondered whether the missile test “is the latest escalation of an arms race in Asia, where the assertiveness and rising military power of China has rattled the region and prompted a forceful response from the Obama administration”.
It said that with the launch of the missile “capable of reaching Beijing and Shanghai”, India joined a small club of nations with long-range nuclear capability, including China, Britain, France, Russia, Israel and the US.
The article noted that perhaps no Asian nation has been “more unnerved by rising Chinese power than India”.
“The two countries share a growing trading relationship and are often aligned on global issues like trade and climate change. Yet many Indian strategic planners now regard China, rather than Pakistan, as the country’s gravest military threat,” the daily added.
The Wall Street Journal, on its part, said that New Delhi hopes the missile launch will send “a message of strength to China”.
It noted that the launch “drew little criticism or expressions of mistrust from outside India”.
Calling India’s ties with China as “stable, though frosty”, the daily said the main achievement of the test-firing was one of range: “The locally built Agni-V missile can now travel 5,000 km or comfortably as far as most of China, including Beijing and Shanghai, which many in India view as a decisive step in narrowing the nation’s military gap with its neighbour”.
An analyst wrote in the BBC that the successful test flight of the missile will also “strengthen India’s nuclear deterrence once it comes into service by 2014-15″.
“India’s retaliatory, no-first use strategic deterrence is based on nuclear weapons delivered by sea, air and mobile land-based systems,” it said.
Britain’s The Independent described the missile launch as “a significant step forward in its aspirations to become a regional and world power”.
It said the test came just days after North Korea’s failed rocket launch, “but sparked none of the same global condemnation aimed at Pyongyang, an internationally isolated regime that has been banned by the UN from testing missile technology”.
The daily, however, pointed out that “China is far ahead of India in the missile race, with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in India”.
Daily Star, a leading daily in India’s neighbour Bangladesh, noted that the missile was “capable of delivering nuclear warheads to anywhere in rival China”.
“India views the rocket as a key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows, albeit slightly, the huge gap with China’s advanced missile systems,” said a report in the daily.
Pakistan’s Daily Times carried the missile launch on its website with the headline “With eye on China, India tests new long-range missile”.
It ran an agency copy that said the missile was capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in rival China, “marking a major advance in its military capabilities”.
Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror said that with a range of 5,000 km, the Agni-V is capable of delivering a single 1.5-tonne warhead “deep inside nuclear rival China’s territory”.
India’s retaliatory, no-first use strategic deterrence is based on nuclear weapons delivered by sea, air and mobile land-based systems, it added.