India tests long-range missile for nuclear deterrence

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Thursday successfully test-fired a long-range “Agni-5” intercontinental nuclear-capable ballistic missile, a government minister said, that is expected to strengthen its deterrence against long-time rival China.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the missile was fired Thursday from Abdul Kalam Island in eastern Odisha state.

“The missile will add great value to the defense and strengthen national security to a greater extent,” Joshi tweeted, citing its range of 5,400 kilometers (3,300 miles) or more.

Ahead of the test, Indian authorities issued a notification and declared the Bay of Bengal as a no-fly zone, said Indian media reports, adding that its range covers almost the entire China mainland.

Fresh tensions arose between India and China following clashes between their army soldiers Dec. 9 along their disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh state.

India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said no Indian soldiers were seriously hurt and troops from both sides withdrew from the area soon afterward. A statement from the Indian army Monday said troops on both sides suffered minor injuries.

Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst, said this was the second user test by India's Strategic Forces Command since it was inducted in 2018. The first test was carried out in 2021.

Bedi said Indian authorities did not take cognizance of the reported presence of a Chinese spy ship in the region and went ahead with the test.

India has developed a family of medium- to intercontinental-range ballistic missiles called “Agni,” which means “fire.” Agni missiles are long-range, nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

For decades, India and China have fiercely contested the Line of Actual Control, a loose demarcation that separates Chinese and Indian held territories from Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a war over the border in 1962.