Wednesday, April 18, 2012

India Poised to Enter Elite Nuclear ICBM Club


Michael Richardson reports:

In a quantum leap over North Korea's controversial though unsuccessful long-range rocket launch on April 13, India plans to test not just one but three ballistic missiles in quick succession over the next week, including the first firing of its Agni 5 missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers.

All three of the different range Indian missiles can be armed with nuclear warheads. But a successful launch of the Agni 5 would bring India close to membership of the elite club of nuclear-armed nations that have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with ranges of more than 5,500 km. Even with a strike distance slightly below this threshold, the Agni 5 can cover the whole of China — India's strategic rival — which has ICBMs that can travel over 11,000 km. The Agni 5 is designed to carry multiple warheads that could hit widely dispersed targets.