India’s successful launch of a long-range nuclear-capable missile on Thursday morning has reactions from around the world, ranging from elation to mild concern.
The 17-meter long, 50-ton Agni V rocket has a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) and reportedly cost about $480-million to build.
Naturally, V. K. Sarawat, scientific adviser to the Indian Defence Minister, lauded the launch.
“With this missile launch, India has emerged as a major missile power,” he told The Hindu newspaper.
“We have joined a select group of countries possessing technology to design, develop, build and manufacture long-range missiles of this class and technological complexity.”
Similarly, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was elated.
“You [military scientists] made the nation proud… Today's launch represents another milestone in our quest for our security, preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science,” he declared.
India’s principal rival in Asia, China, issued a cautious statement that seemed to downplay any threats the missile may pose.
Liu Weimin, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry told reporters in Beijing: “China and India are both important developing countries and emerging economies, we are not rivals, we are cooperative partners. We should both cherish the fact that our current good relations were hard to come by; we should make common efforts, maintain Sino-Indian friendship, deepen strategic cooperation, incentivize common development, and contribute to protecting not only regional but global peace and stability.”
Other reactions were somewhat less charitable.
The state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times wrote in an editorial: “India being swept up by missile delusion… [India] is still poor and lags behind in infrastructure construction, but its society is highly supportive of developing nuclear power and the West chooses to overlook India's disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties.”
The article further warned: “Even if [India] has missiles that could reach most parts of China, that does not mean it will gain anything from being arrogant during disputes with China. 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…
The daily added: “India should also not overstate the value of its Western allies and the profits it could gain from participating in a containment of China. If it equates long range strategic missiles with deterrence of China, and stirs up further hostility, it could be sorely mistaken.”
China’s state-owned Central Television hailed the launch as a “historic moment,” but added that “it does not pose a threat in reality.”
The United States had a muted response to the missile test.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters: “Naturally, I just would say that we urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities. That said, India has a solid nonproliferation record, he said.
They're engaged with the international community on nonproliferation issues.
However, India never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. After the country first tested a nuclear device in 1974, the U.S. placed India under sanctions for about 25 years.
Toner added: “Prime Minister Singh, I believe, has attended both the nuclear – both of the nuclear summits – security summits, the one in Washington and then Seoul.”
India’s historic rival Pakistan has yet issued no official reaction to the missile test.
According to Voice of America, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said his country was notified of the missile test ahead of the launch in accordance with an existing bilateral agreement.