The Asian arms race is continuing and really the Chinese only have their selves to blame for their neighbors wanting to increase their deterrence capabilities against them:
India said Thursday it had successfully launched a missile with nuclear capability and a 3,100-mile range, giving it the ability to strike Beijing and Shanghai, and heightening fears of an Asian arms race.
With the successful launching of the missile, called Agni 5, India joins a small group of countries with long-range nuclear missile capability, including China, Britain, France, Russia and the United States. “Agni” means fire in Hindi.
The launching comes amid growing international apprehension about militarization of Asia and a stepped-up strategic rivalry between the United States and China in Asia. In March, China announced a double-digit increase in military spending, while India recently became the world’s top arms buyer, bumping China from the top spot, in part because China increased domestic production.
Thursday’s launching “increases the perception of an arms race, and the reality of an arms race, in East Asia, particularly between China and India,” said Graeme Herd, head of the international security program at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, which trains diplomats in peace and security.
The timing of the missile launching may be seen as particularly antagonistic, he said, coming as China’s government deals with a scandal involving one of its top officials, and after the United States has stepped up its military presence in the Pacific. “All of this, from the Chinese perspective, looks like a movement from balancing China to containing China,” Mr. Herd said, and could inspire China to strengthen its weapons stockpile further, forge closer ties with Pakistan and delve deeper into Afghanistan.
The launching was largely celebrated in India, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it “another milestone in our quest to add to the credibility of our security and preparedness and to continuously explore the frontiers of science.” The entire nation honors the scientists involved, he said, who have “done the country proud.”
Defense Minister A.K. Antony said India had “joined the elite club of nations,” which possess long-range missiles. [NY Times]