April 12, 2007 / 7:30 AM / 12 years ago

India tests longest-range ballistic missile

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - India carried out a successful test on Thursday of its longest-range ballistic missile, the Agni III, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead more than 3,000 km (1,900 miles), scientists said.

Defense analysts say the Agni III is primarily designed to counter the military strength of China, which also has nuclear weapons, while shorter-range versions of the missile have been developed with long-time rival Pakistan in mind.

The launch of the longest-range Agni, which means “fire” in the Sanskrit language, came after a failed test last July when the missile plunged into the Bay of Bengal after take-off.

“Yes, the test was absolutely successful,” W. Selvamurthy, a senior official of the Defense Research and Development Organization, which designed the missile, told Reuters.

“It took off at 10:50 a.m. (0520 GMT) and landed at 11:05 a.m.,” he said. “We are absolutely satisfied with all the results and we have rectified the errors of last year’s failure. It met all the target coordinates.”

The missile was launched from Wheeler island off India’s eastern coast.

India has around 100 to 150 nuclear warheads and staged tests in 1974 and 1998.

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