In a carefully-worded message on India’s Agni-V test the United States urged nuclear-capable states like India to “exercise restraint,” regarding their nuclear capabilities.
However it simultaneously praised India’s “solid nonproliferation record.”
On Thursday India tested the intercontinental ballistic missile with a 5000-plus kilometre range, capable of delivering a nuclear payload deep into Chinese territory. The missile blasted off from Wheeler Island and officials confirmed that the launch had been successful.
In a briefing State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said India was engaged with the international community on nonproliferation issues, particularly noting that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had attended the two nuclear security summits held thus far, one each in Washington and Seoul.
He however added, “Naturally, I just would say that we urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities. That said, India has a solid non-proliferation record.”
To a question on whether the U.S. had discussed the Agni-V test with Indian officials he said, “I’m not aware that we’ve specifically raised this issue with them. We’ve certainly seen the reports that between April 18th and 20th that they plan to test this ballistic missile.” He also alluded to the fact that the launch had initially been postponed owing to bad weather.
Yet in this context Mr. Toner emphasised the strength of India-U.S. defence ties, saying, “You know that we’ve got a very strong strategic and security partnership with India, so we obviously have routine discussions about a wide range of topics, including their defence requirements.”
The test was greeted with scepticism in Chinese media. China’s Global Times newspaper, owned by media linked to the Communist Party, said, “India should not overestimate its strength. Even if it has missiles that could reach most parts of China that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China.”
It further warned, “India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China.”
Keywords: Agni-V launch