India Set To Join Elite ICBM Club

India is all set to join the elite ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) club, as the South Asian country plans to test-fire ‘Agni-V’ missile for the last time soon.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has said that Agni-V can easily hit targets in northern China, as its striking range is more than 5,000km. The Indian agency, charged with the military’s research and development, also said that the 17.5m tall missile with a diameter of 2m could carry a nuclear capable warhead of 1,500kg. Like other ICBMs, Agni-V features several guided warheads, called Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles, which guarantee a second-strike capability.
A senior DRDO official said that Agni-V would easily find its place among world’s 10 deadliest missiles. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed that the missile was on course for its final test before user trials and induction by the Strategic Forces Command. He claimed that with this missile, India would have its first long-range strike capability, covering all of China and beyond. He believes that Agni-V will be long-range game changer for India in the coming years.
Although the missile is said to be one of India’s greatest achievement so far, there are other countries which are much stronger with their arms of higher ranges. As of now, only five countries – The US, Russia, The UK, France and China – have Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs). Israel is believed to have developed an ICBM, called The Jericho, and North Korea may also have an ICBM.
While the striking range of Russia’s R-36 missile is 16,000km, China’s DF-41 has a striking range of 15,000km, the US’ Minuteman has 13,000km, the UK’s Trident 12,000km and France’s M51 missile has a striking range of 10,000km. Meanwhile, neighbouring Pakistan’s longest range missile is the Shaheen III with a range of about 2,750km.
Soon after India hinted that it would test-fire Agni-V in end-December or early-January, Beijing issued a cautious statement, with senior spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Liu Weimin saying: “China and India are large developing nations. We are not competitors, but partners. We believe that both sides should cherish the hard-won good state of affairs at present, and work hard to uphold friendly strategic co-operation to promote joint development and make positive contributions towards maintaining peace and stability in the region.”
Recently, India became a signatory to the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime and a civil nuclear co-operation agreement with Japan.

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