- Many Indians are so proud of their country's
nuclear missile programme that they have included it in their shrines
- The Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes,
says India will soon test-fire a longer-range version of its Agni ballistic
- Mr Fernandes said the new Agni-II missile
would use up-to-the-minute locally designed technology, but gave no details
of its specification, nor testing date.
- "Test firing of the Agni-II is inevitable.
It will be done soon but no date has yet been finalised," he said.
- The Agni-I missile has been test-launched
three times since 1993 but it has not been deployed by the military.
- Foreign defence experts believe the new
missile could carry warheads up to 3,000km - double the range of the Agni-I.
- They have expressed serious concern over
both India's and Pakistan's missile programme, particularly since both
tested nuclear devices earlier this year.
- Cruise missile developed
- Mr Fernandes said that India is also
developing a cruise missile system called 'Sagarika'. The missile is designed
to be launched from a submarine or warship.
- Correspondents say that the Indian minister's
comments is the first official statement on the weapon system by India,
which previously denied it planned to build cruise missiles.
- India's missile programme
- India's Integrated Guided Missile Development
Programme, which started in 1983, has led to the development of an array
of five missiles including Agni-I and Prithvi.
- A variant of Prithvi for the airforce
has been developed and scientists plan to design a ship-to-shore version.
- The Indian defence minister said the
government will establish a command-and-control system for its nuclear
- "Once a National Security Council
is in position, the question of command-and-control would be decided,"
said Mr Fernandes.
- Mr Fernandes announced a series of military
projects, including the development of an anti-missile system.