The Indian government has postponed the planned launch of a long-range nuclear missile due to inclement weather on the eastern coast of the country, according to reports.
Due to heavy lightning in the area, the scheduled test flight of the Agni V has been postponed until tomorrow [Thursday] for safety reasons, a spokesman for India's defense ministry, Sitanshu Kar, told Reuters.
The Agni V, which has the capability of carrying nuclear warheads and has a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), would make India only the sixth nation on earth with intercontinental nuclear defense capabilities. The five other countries -- the U.S., China, Russia, the UK and France -- comprise the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
The 50-ton, 20-meter Agni V rocket -- also known as the “China Killer” by Indian media -- could conceivably reach any target in Asia and even parts of Eastern Europe.
Other series of Agni rockets have smaller ranges that were designed to protect India’s borders with Pakistan.
This missile is about neutralizing the threat coming from China,'' said Uday Bhaskar, an analyst at the New Delhi-based National Maritime Foundation, according to Bloomberg.
''The tests are about trying to create equality with China rather than trying to outdo it.''
China and India, the two vast nations that dominate Asia, have disputed large portions of their 2,200-mile border for decades and fought a war over the issue in 1962. Still, as far as nuclear stakes are concerned, China is believed to have almost six times as many warheads as India does.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing over India’s aggressive pursuit of arms and military hardware. Over the past five years, India has spent $12.7 billion on weapons, making it the largest arms buyer in the world over that period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.