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India Launches Long-Range Missile

Indian officials say they have successfully tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a warhead to Beijing or other major Chinese cities.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the country's scientists and hailed the successful test of the Agni-V missile.

"The successful launch of Agni-V missile is a tribute to the sophistication and commitment to national causes on the part of India's scientific technological community," Singh said.

Test director S.P. Das said the test "met all the mission objectives," and Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony described the launch as "immaculate."

The Agni-V was launched early on April 19 from Wheeler Island off India's east coast.

The original Agni-I nuclear-capable missile was designed in the 1980s with a range of about 700 kilometers. In November 2011, India tested the Agni-IV, with a range of 3,500 kilometers.

With the latest test, India moves closer to joining Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States as the only states possessing intercontential missile technology.

The Agni-V represents a new stage in the growing Asian rivalry between India and China. C. Raja Mohan is a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research, an independent policy think tank in New Delhi.

"Unlike China, which has had long-range missiles for a long time, India did not have a missile that was capable of hitting major targets in China," Mohan said. "Now, with this missile, it should be able to reach China's eastern seaport. For the first time now, India has a deterrent capability vis-à-vis China."

India says its missile program is aimed at building a credible deterrent. The country has an official "no-first-use" policy on nuclear weapons.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, CNN, and dpa

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