India’s intercontinental missile test could start Asian arms race: NYT

 NEW YORK, April 19 : India‘s test of a missile with nuclear capability and a range of 3,100 miles heightens fears of an Asian arms race, The New York Times said Thursday.

“The launching comes amid growing international apprehension about the militarisation of Asia and a stepped-up strategic rivalry between the United States and China in Asia,” the newspaper said in its report of the launch by India of the Agni V missile.

The missile’s range gives it the ability to strike Beijing and Shanghai, “heightening fears of an Asian arms race,” the Times said.

The missile launch “increases the perception of an arms race, and the reality of an arms race, in East Asia particularly between China and India,” the report quoted Graeme Herd, head of the international security programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, which trains diplomats on peace and security issues, as saying.

Herd said the timing of the launch may be seen as particularly provocative after the US stepped up its military presence in the Pacific.

“All of this, from the Chinese perspective, looks like a movement from balancing China to containing China,” Herd said adding that this could inspire China to strengthen its weapons stockpile further and forge closer ties with Pakistan and Central Asia countries.

The Wall Street Journal quoted experts as saying that Agni-V is the most advanced missile in India’s inventory and “places the country on a footing with Beijing,” which already has missiles capable of striking deep into Indian territory.

Analysts say France, Russia, China and the United States also have this technology, while Israel is believed to have developed such missiles.

Other US media reports quoted Indian Defence analyst Rahul Bedi as saying that much needed to be done, noting that a government that is notoriously slow with defence decisions now needs to push forward with more tests, work out strategic doctrines, define targets, figure out manufacturing issues and how many missiles to build among a host of other issues.

“We need to build on today’s success … to build in a very capable dissausive deterrence capability,” he said. “But going back to past records I don’t know if we can sustain it.”

India and China fought a war in 1962 and continue to nurse a border dispute and New Delhi has engaged in a splurge of defence spending in recent years to counter the perceived Chinese threat.

The Indian navy took command of a Russian nuclear submarine earlier this year, and India is expected to take delivery of a retrofitted Soviet-built aircraft carrier soon.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States urges all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities.

“That said, India has a solid non-proliferation record,” he told a news briefing. “India has been, you now, very much engaged in the international community on nonproliferation issues. They’ve attended both the nuclear security summits, the one in (Washington) D.C. and the one in Seoul. So we believe, you know, they have a solid nonproliferation record and that they’re playing a significant role internationally on the issue.”

Source: MGCT, The New York Times 

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