New York: India`s successful test-fire of its first inter-continental ballistic missile heightens fears of an Asian arms race, even as it places the country on a footing with China, US media reports said of the launch.
"The launching comes amid growing international apprehension about the militarisation of Asia and a stepped-up strategic rivalry between the United States and China in Asia," the New York Times said in its report of the successful launch by India of the Agni V missile.
The missile`s range of 5000 kilometres gives it the ability to strike Beijing and Shanghai, "heightening fears of an Asian arms race," the US daily said.
The missile launch, from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha today, "increases the perception of an arms race, and the reality of an arms race, in East Asia, particularly between China and India," the report quoted Graeme Herd, head of the international security programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, which trains diplomats on peace and security issues, as saying.
Herd said the timing of the launch may be seen as particularly provocative, coming as China`s government deals with a scandal involving one of its top officials, and after the US 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," Herd said adding that this could inspire China to strengthen its weapons stockpile further and forge closer ties with Pakistan and Central Asia countries.
The Wall Street Journal quoted experts as saying that Agni-V is the most advanced missile in India`s inventory and "places the country on a footing with Beijing," which already has missiles capable of striking deep into Indian territory.