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India's longest-range missile ready for test launch: official

The Agni-3
by Staff Writers
New Delhi, (AFP) May 14, 2006
India's longest-range ballistic missile is ready for a test launch, the country's top military scientist announced Sunday.

"We are technically ready for the test-firing of the missile," M. Natarajan, scientific advisor to the defence ministry, announced at an official function in New Delhi which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"We are awaiting a nod from the government," he said of the Agni-III (Fire) nuclear-capable ballistic missile which has an official range of 4,000 kilometres (2,480 miles).

Some experts believe the solid-fuel missile can travel a distance of 6,000 kilometres (3,720 miles) but the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which built the system, declined to confirm the estimates.

India has been putting off tests of the Agni-III since November 2004 reportedly under pressure from the United States concerned it could spark an arms race with New Delhi's rival Pakistan.

The Agni ballistic missile can be deployed through rail or road mobile launches and has greater accuracy for its 200 to 300-kilogram (440-660-pound) conventional or nuclear warhead payloads, according to the DRDO.

India's arch-rival Pakistan on April 29 test fired a nuclear-capable missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,250, miles).

India has already tested several variants of the Agni missiles with the ability to strike targets between 800 (496 miles) and 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) and has developed an arsenal of other surface and maritime missiles.

Last October nuclear rivals India and Pakistan agreed to give advance notice of ballistic missile tests to avoid misunderstandings. The two countries carried out tit-for-tat nuclear explosions in 1998 and have declined to sign global nuclear arms treaties.

India however agreed earlier this year to put 14 of its civilian atomic reactors under international safeguards in return for frontline nuclear technology from the United States.

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Yerevan, (AFP) May 13, 2006
Armenia late Friday inaugurated a plant that will recycle toxic components of the fuel used by Soviet-era missiles that remain on the territory of this Caucasus republic.

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