India has successfully carried out its first test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 kilometres, Defence officials say.
The Agni-III missile was launched from Wheeler Island, 180 kilometres north-east of Bhubaneshwar in the eastern state of Orissa, they said on condition of anonymity.
In May Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said the Agni-III, India’s longest-range ballistic missile, was ready but that the country was observing “self-imposed restraint” before testing.
Opposition parties criticised the announcement, saying testing was being delayed because of pressure from the United States.
New Delhi and Washington reached a landmark deal in March that will see sanctions lifted on India’s access to civilian nuclear technology.
Sunday’s test launch comes just four days after North Korea sparked an international outcry by test-firing seven missiles.
A highly-placed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) source said the Indian test was “successful”.
He said scientists had detected a snag in the booster rocket system of the Agni-III two weeks ago and had delayed its test.
“Now we have papered over the problem and hence the launch window was chosen as Sunday,” he said.
The missile was tracked during take-off, re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in the Bay of Bengal, another Defence official said.
The Agni (Fire) is one of five missiles being developed by the DRDO under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Program launched in 1983.
The others are the Prithvi, the surface-to-air Trishul (Trident), multi-purpose Akash (Sky), and the anti-tank Nag (Cobra).