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India tests first nuclear-capable missile

April 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
India successfully test launched its first long-range nuclear capable missile, which officials say could reach major cities in China like Shanghai and Beijing.

According to Indian officials, the missile called "Agni," which means "fire" in Hindi, is the most advanced missile the country has developed.

India claims the missile is being developed as a defensive tool to protect against Pakistan and China.

The Agni-V missile, which has a range of 3,100 miles, still requires a battery of tests and must clear other bureaucratic hurdles before it can be inducted into India's arsenal in a few years.

India's test launch came just days after North Korea's failed rocket launch, but sparked none of the same global condemnation aimed at Pyongyang, an internationally isolated regime that has been banned by the U.N. from testing missile technology.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin declined to comment on the launch at a news conference Thursday, saying only that India and China should work together as strategic partners.

However, a state TV report and a Chinese newspaper enumerated the missile's shortcomings and warned India not to get arrogant and overestimate its strength.

An editorial in the Global Times, which is published by the Communist Party's official mouthpiece the People's Daily, also warned India not to work with Western allies to try to contain China.

The Agni-V is a solid-fuel, three-stage missile designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead. It stands 57 feet tall, has a launch weight of 50 tons and was built mainly with Indian-made technology at a reported cost of $486 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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