Feeds

India tests intermediate-range missile

Looking to boost global status with nuclear muscle?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The Indian government claims it has significantly increased its nuclear delivery capability, with a successful test today of the uprated Agni-III ballistic missile.

According to the India Daily, defence officials said today's launch was successful, and that Agni-III would offer a range of 3,000km. That would put the main cities of China firmly under the Indian nuclear footprint; not to mention Iran and the former-Soviet 'Stans. Much of Pakistan is already within India's reach.

The two-stage Agni missiles have been under development for a long time, with the first launch taking place back in 1989. Initially, the Indian government preferred to describe the system as a "technology demonstrator project", exploiting work done in the country's civil space programme.

Under US pressure, New Delhi actually announced it was cancelling Agni in 1995. At that time India was unwilling to publicly admit that it had aspirations toward nuclear weapons, and the Agni rockets made little sense without atomic warheads.

Time's moved on and subsequent generations of New Delhi politicians were avowedly pro-nuclear. Successful atom-bomb tests were carried out, and the Agni missile programme moved forward. The first trial for Agni-III took place in July last year, but was unsuccessful. Now it appears that India will soon be able to menace its most powerful neighbours, though in fact relations with both Pakistan and China have grown significantly chummier in recent times.

Some analysts would suggest that in the absence of a standoff with any regional power, the primary usefulness of the Agni-III might be to enhance India's global status. Many in India feel that their nation should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, like the UK, US, France, China, and Russia. Today's announcement may strengthen this lobby somewhat.

However, purely in terms of weapons technology, a nuclear-tipped Agni-III isn't quite top-table stuff. The permanent five all deploy the gold standard of atomic deterrents: triple-stage intercontinental rockets ranging beyond 5,000km, launched from invulnerable nuclear-propelled submarines.

That said, Indians might point out that the UK has no indigenous rocket industry of its own and has to buy its missiles from America. British chauvinists would no doubt counter by pointing out that India hasn't yet built nuclear submarines, arguably an equally complex technology. However, some reports indicate that India might have home-grown nuclear boats at sea as soon as 2010.

Such arguments might be rendered somewhat irrelevant by the Security Council's typical paralysis on any given issue (due, perhaps, to the existing big five being unable ever to agree). The level of genuine national benefit conferred by a permanent UNSC seat is a matter of opinion, and there can't be a lot of doubt that it would become less valuable if more countries had one. It's also possible to suggest that awards of enhanced UN status as a result of weapons tests might send the wrong message to other aspirant nations.

None of that will dampen a certain sense of satisfaction in New Delhi today. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.