In India, the euphoria of the media and the institutions is over the roof. The news of the success of Agni V is all over. Agni means fire in Sanskrit and is also mentioned the most in the Vedas and among others is also a ubiquitous Matchbox brand that is the news of the day.
The Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) VK Saraswat, announced the spectacular success of the launch test and explained that today India has emerged as a major missile power in the world. A few minutes later, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar complimented the DRDO for reaching the historical milestone.
You have made the country proud, Modi told over the phone to VK Saraswat, while Parrikar spoke of the historic day and the immaculate success. The Agni-5 is the last of the Agni series of missiles developed by the DRDO in the 1990s when India resumed its nuclear missile program to combat the growing threat from Pakistan.
For the realization of the latest generation missile that is entirely developed on Indian territory by local scientists, the Indian government claimed an expense that is around 370 million euros. The Defense Minister said that the missile will provide India a strong deterrent and will be used only from the perspective of defensive.
This point of view is also shared by NATO that has issued a press release stating that the Atlantic Alliance does not consider the Indian missile program as a threat to the territory of its members. The Defense Minister has made no secret of the main objective of strengthening the Indian missile arsenal in response to the Chinese threat, forcing Beijing to consider the military potential of Delhi in a new light.
Besides India, countries that currently have the capacity for intercontinental nuclear fire are Great Britain, France, United States, Israel, Russia, and China. In line with the existing unwritten rules inherited from the Cold War, which force the world powers to obtain precautionary nuclear weapons, India also will now have its ominous red button, one more weapon to wield in complicated talks with the two most dangerous neighbors China and Pakistan.
In describing the scope of the new Agni-5 between 5000 and 6000 km, Indian experts interviewed by the national television news agency have repeatedly brought the example of the northeastern part of China, a paraphrase to indicate Beijing and off the island of Taiwan, near the southeastern Chinese locomotive of economic growth.
The Global Times, coming out with an editorial, Welcome India to the nuclear missile power club, sports the traditional paraphernalia of ridicule and teasing often reserved to another Asian giant, beating with surgical precision on the raw nerve of the Indian sense of inferiority.
India must be clear that China's nuclear arsenal is stronger and more reliable. In the near future, India would not have any hope in an arms war with China. And again China understands India's desire to catch up with China. Objectively, China does spend much time looking towards India, while India pays close attention to China.
Agni-V, which after a series of other tests will be fully operational in 2017, is in response to the threat from Beijing and Islamabad, who for years are plotting around India. It is the last step of the slow maneuver approach that Delhi is undertaking to Chinese standards, even war. Chinese ICBMs, continuously developed since the 1970s inspired by Soviet technology, currently reach a range of 13000 km, which is more than double than India.
The most lethal missile in the arsenal is the Chinese Dongfeng-31A that can hit a target up to 7000 km away with a thermonuclear warhead of 1.8 tons. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, for comparison, was a nuclear fission bomb with 60 kg of uranium. But between the two fires, it is Pakistan, that is the main concern for Delhi.
Islamabad, since the early nineties, has enjoyed the help of France, China and North Korea to progress technologically, and develop a series of nuclear-tipped missiles. The most dangerous are Shaheen-1 and Shaheen-2, which are copies of Chinese missiles provided to Pakistan by Beijing.
Shaheen-2, tested by Islamabad in 2004, would have a range of 1200 km, enough to hit New Delhi with a one-ton nuclear warhead. But according to Indian intelligence reports the reach of Pakistan's missile would actually be much broader, endangering the security of the entire peninsula.