India testfires ballistic missile, as nuclear club eyes its ‘inclusion’

NEW DELHI:India on Tuesday testfired its ‘nuclear capable’ Dhanush ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 kilometres, the Zee News channel reported.The surface-to-surface missile was test fired from INS Subhadra in the Bay of Bengal. The channel reported that it was a naval variant of India’s ‘indigenously developed’ Prithvi missile.Quoting unidentified officials at the India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, the channel reported that the Dhanush missile was capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear payload of 500kg and can hit both land and sea-based targets under 350km range.On the other hand, some Indian media reported that NuclearGroup (NSG) Chairman Rafael Grossi – who recently visited New Delhi to meet India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj – tried to build a ‘consensus’ to admit India at its annual meeting next June.

“It’s a very delicate process but I think there is less and less justification for the impasse,” said Grossi, who is also Argentinia’s ambassador to Vienna. There is a point that India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.The nuclear group operates by consensus, admitting India alone would mean it could then bar its western neighbour from the club, potentially pushing Pakistan to the fringes.“India has a nuclear deal with the US, with France and it will soon have deals with Australia and Japan. So all this will of course complement its effort to get into NSG,” said a senior security official in Pakistan.“But people don’t understand that India will use all this additional fuel (through civil nuclear deals) to make energy and have a lot more left over to use to make weapons. So at the end of it, the need for even more deterrence from our side will grow, not decrease,” the official said.Pakistan sees a nuclear lead as vital insurance against Indian aggression, and it appears to be gaining the upper hand over India in the nuclear contest. Analysts Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon estimate Pakistan is producing 20 nuclear warheads a year to India’s five.

The US State Department declined to comment on specific discussions over Pakistan, but an official said Washington had not entered into talks on a civil nuclear pact with it. Nor was it seeking a waiver for Pakistan to trade with the NSG. The US continues to integrate India into the global non-proliferation mainstream, this official also said.


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