India postpones test-firing of Agni-III ballistic missile

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

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The Indian government has once again delayed the testing of the medium-range Agni-III missile. The state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation had planned to conduct trials later this month. The Agni-III, which has a range of 3000 kilometres and the ability to carry nuclear warheads, is intended to boost India's nuclear-deterrence capabilities to a great extent. The DRDO also has plans for developing an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile for the same purpose.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that the nation had more pressing issues, such as poverty to deal with, and could not afford to divert huge funds to the test-launch programme.

The D.R.D.O, which has often been criticized for its failure to meet deadlines, indicated its disappointment at the government statement. At a public function for the inauguration of the new D.R.D.O headquarters at New Delhi, Chief Controller S.C Narang pointedly said that his team was prepared to launch Agni-III within the week. Experts have stated that unless India displays its nuclear capabilities more seriously, its nuclear-deterrence capabilities will not seem credible.