India conducted its second flight test of the Agni-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on January 17. In a statement released shortly after the launch, the Indian Defense Ministry noted that the missile was tested in its "final operational configuration" and that "mission objectives were met satisfactorily."
The road-mobile, two-stage, solid-fueled Agni-2 is New Delhi's most advanced missile system. It can deliver a 1,000-kilogram payload more than 2,000 kilometers, reaching targets throughout Pakistan and much of western China and Southeast Asia. The Indian defense minister's scientific adviser, V.K. Aatre, told reporters January 25 that the nuclear-capable missile will be inducted into the Indian arsenal sometime this year.
India tested the IRBM at the Interim Test Range at Chandipur, in the eastern state of Orissa. According to the Indian Foreign Ministry, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Pakistan, and Japan were notified in advance of the impending test in accordance with an agreement signed in Lahore in 1999.
India first tested the Agni-2 in April 1999, approximately one year after its 1998 nuclear tests. At that time, Pakistan responded quickly with missile tests of its own.This year, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry reacted with a statement characterizing India's nuclear and missile programs as "ambitious" and saying they posed "a direct threat to Pakistan's security." The ministry also reiterated Islamabad's October 1998 proposal to develop a "Strategic Restraint Regime to promote nuclear and conventional stabilization and to strengthen peace and stability in South Asia."