India resuming tests, improvements on nuclear missile systems

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Now that India says it has the ability to produce a nuclear bomb, it is perfecting missiles to carry one, the government’s top nuclear scientist said Sunday.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam told reporters India was working to increase the range of its Agni missile. Testing of the Agni was suspended two years ago but is expected to resume soon.
Agni is believed to have a range of 1,550 miles, enough to reach Shanghai or Beijing. India has said it needs a nuclear defense against China, also a nuclear state, and neighboring Pakistan.
He was flanked by three other top scientists who organized last week’s five nuclear explosions, less than a month after receiving government orders to do so.
The tests, followed by India’s declaration that it is capable of producing a bomb, set off a storm of international criticism.
On Sunday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub told The Associated Press his country had decided to go ahead with testing a nuclear device in retaliation.
The Agni, the centerpiece of India’s $300 million missile program, was test-fired three times.
India has also tested a short-range ballistic missile, Prithvi, which can target Pakistani cities within 95 miles. The Prithvi has been tested 16 times.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1948 and still engage in frequent border skirmishes. India and China fought a war since 1962, but tensions had been easing along their disputed frontier in the Himalayas.
India says China has shared its nuclear weapons technology with Pakistan.
Kalam said India’s nuclear research program would not be affected by tough sanctions imposed by the United States, Japan and Germany.
“Nobody can throttle us technologically,” he said. “Given a challenge, we will do the job.”
Kalam and R. Chidambaram, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, said Sunday that the most powerful of last week’s explosions was from a thermonuclear device with a force equivalent to 45,000 tons of TNT.