Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 28, July 1998
Indian Parliament Pushes for New Missile TestsOn 8 July, the Indian Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence published a report strongly advocating the urgent and comprehensive continuation of India's missile development programme, the centrepiece of which is the medium-range Agni ballistic missile (range 1,500 miles/2,500 kilometres). The 43 members of the Committee concluded unanimously that:
"[T]he Government should go ahead full steam in a time-bound manner to develop a full range of missiles, in addition to the variants of the Agni currently under development, as a deterrent to potential enemies from using their ballistic missile capabilities against any of our assets..."
The main 'potential enemy' the Committee had in mind was China: "China has...developed a large number of missile systems which can target any part of our country [and] against which we have no credible missile deterrent..."
On 16 June, the Asian Age newspaper reported that the Ministry of Defence was planning a test-flight of Agni in August. If carried out, it would be the first test since February 1994 - an interval due not to technical problems but political pressure, particularly from the United States, to abandon or at least suspend the development programme.
Reports: India Parliament panel pushes for more missiles, Reuters, 10 July; India to test fire Agni missile in August, Reuters, 17 July.
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.