Opinion: Agni-5 has been developed indigenously to deter China

Agni-V is capable of carrying nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes.(Representative Image) Photograph:( Others )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 18, 2018, 01.22 PM (IST) Rajiv Nayan

By testing Agni-5 on January 18, it seems, India has sent a firm message to many doubting Thomases inside and outside the country. A missile or nuclear test is conducted not only for validating technical parameters but also to send a political signal. 

 

Regarding Agni-5, from the very beginning, it has been made clear that this particular range does not need more than 2-3 tests before the deployment because most of the technical or technological parameters were already tested in the shorter ranges of Agni. 

 

This fifth test of Agni-5 is also the third recurring test from a canister on a road-mobile launcher. So, even this canister on a road-mobile capability has been tested as per requirements. 

 

Quite significantly, none of the five tests have failed. Thus, the maturity of ballistic missile development technology is decisively restated. When Agni-3 had failed, many started doubting the Indian capability to build an advanced weapons system. The scientific community has given a befitting response to the sceptics.

 

Now, the user will be confident about the capability. Agni-5 is going to build Indian nuclear deterrence robust and effective. Besides, it is also on the line of the global pattern of mobile ballistic missile development. The third successful test of a mobile Agni-5 gives the nuclear deterrence the required operational flexibility. It can address shifting targets with even a small size of ballistic missile battery. 

 

Signalling China, it wants to assert that Chinese expansionist and aggressive policy will not go unanswered. Violating all the past agreements for maintaining the status-quo, China has once again stepped up its construction activities in the Doklam region. Media reports suggest that this time, Chinese activities are much more intense than what it did about six months back.  Though the Indian government does not maintain that any of its nuclear-capable missiles or nuclear weapons is country-specific, it is an open secret that Agni-5 has been developed to deter China.

 

Moreover, the missile was launched the day the Indian defence minister inaugurated the Defence Industry Development Meeting. In fact, she rightly stressed the role Indian indigenous industry had played in developing strategic weapons like nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

 

 India has been under curbs so that it does not develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Despite the 2008 NSG exemptions or joining the Missile Technology Control Regime, these curbs continue. Still, no country is going to supply any item which may contribute to the development of  Indian nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. All of these needs to be developed indigenously. 

 

Now, the Indian government needs to signal to the world that it can develop other weapons systems indigenously and the world has to work with it under the Make in India programme. 

 

 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)  

 

 

Rajiv Nayan

Rajiv Nayan is Senior Research Associate at IDSA, New Delhi. His expertise lies in Weapons of Mass Destruction and Arms Control.