India follows Pakistan with missile test

NEW DELHI - India test-fired its second-longest-range missile on Wednesday, a defence official said, two days after Pakistan announced its own missile test.

The two-stage Agni-IV blasted off from the eastern state of Orissa in the third test for the missile, which was first launched in 2010 in a flight marred by technical problems. Its second test last November was declared a success.

"The Agni-IV was tested for its full range of 4,000 kilometres (2,480 miles) and it was a success," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) spokesman Ravi Gupta told AFP on Wednesday.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with arch-rival India since their 1947 independence, test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile on Monday with "stealth features".

DRDO spokesman Gupta insisted India's test was not "country-specific".

"None of our missiles are country-specific. We are a peaceful nation which has never attacked any country in thousands of years," the DRDO spokesman added.

India unveiled its 5,000-kilometre range Agni-V in April, which was seen as a massive boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows - albeit slightly - the huge gap with China's missile systems.

The Agni-V left India knocking at the door of a select club of nations with inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which have a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres.

Currently only the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - possess a declared ICBM capability.

China and India fought a brief but bloody war in 1962 over a border dispute that remains unresolved despite several rounds of talks between Asia's two most militarily-powerful nations.

Agni, which means "fire" in Sanskrit, is the name given to a series of rockets the DRDO developed as part of its ambitious integrated guided missile development project launched in 1983.

While the shorter-range Agnis I and II were mainly developed with traditional rival Pakistan in mind, later versions with longer range reflect the shift in India's focus towards China.

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