India has test-fired a nuclear-capable missile with a range of over 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), enough to reach Europe and most of China. It is capable of delivering a one-ton warhead.
Indian's government on Thursday confirmed media reports by saying it had "successfully" test-launched a long-range missile, marking a "milestone" in its defence capabilities.
The launch had previously been delayed by one day due to bad weather.
The 17-meter (56-foot) Agni-V missile, with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) and capable of delivering a one-tonne warhead, was launched shortly after 8 a.m. local time (0230 GMT) from India's eastern state of Orissa.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated a team of 800 scientists and engineers who had developed the Agni-V over three years. India's Defence Minister A.K. Antony said the launch was a "major milestone in India's missile program."
The head of India's Defence and Research Organisation (DRDO) V. K. Saraswat went further by telling the NDTV news channel: "We are today a missile power unmatching to most of the world."
The stated theoretical range of the missile is just 500 kilometers shy of the minimum required range for a rocket to be classed as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Unlike India's other missiles, the Agni-V would be able to reach the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai
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The director of the test range at the launch site, S.P Dash, told Reuters that the launch met all its objectives and "hit the target with very good accuracy."
The launch, announced well in advance, received far less Western scrutiny that North Korea's recent, failed launch of a projectile destined for orbit. Pyongyang claimed that the launch was designed to send a satellite into space, the West called it a covert ballistic missile test.
Media in China, however, had noted the planned launch with displeasure.
"The West chooses to overlook India's disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties," China's Global Times newspaper wrote in an editorial published on Wednesday, the originally planned date for the test-launch.
msh/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)