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Subject: India test IRBM.    1/24/2002 10:32:53 PM
(COMTEX) B: India tests advanced version of intermediate-range missile B: India tests advanced version of intermediate-range missile NEW DELHI, India, Jan 25, 2002 (AP WorldStream via COMTEX) -- India successfully tested an advanced version of its nuclear-capable, intermediate range Agni missile - the most powerful weapon in its missile arsenal - from an island off the eastern coast on Friday, news reports said. The test came as hundreds of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers, ballistic missiles, fighter jets and tanks face each other across the border in the biggest military standoff in decades. The missile test had been planned for months, well before the border troop standoff that followed a militant attack on India's Parliament on Dec. 13, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based groups. Pakistan has denied involvement, but banned the groups afterward. Agni-II soared into the sky over the Bay of Bengal from Wheeler's Island off the coast of Orissa state early in the morning, Press Trust of India said, quoting unidentified sources. The testing site is located 80 kilometers (50 miles) out to sea from a coastal facility where the Defense Research and Development Organization tests much of its modern defense weaponry. Agni means "fire" in Hindi, India's national language. Other details on the new version were not immediately available from the testing range at Chandipur, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of New Delhi. The earlier version of the Agni has a range of 2,480 kilometers (1,500 miles). India's missile arsenal includes army and air force versions of the short-range ballistic missile Prithvi; the Trishul, a surface-to-air missile that targets aircraft and can counter sea-skimming missiles; and the anti-tank Nag missile. India, which conducted five nuclear tests in 1998, is currently perfecting its missile delivery system. India says it is developing its missile program as a deterrent against neighbors China and Pakistan. India has fought one war with China and three with Pakistan. -0- APO Priority=r (PROFILE (WS SL:BC-India-Missile Test; CT:i; (REG:AFRI;) (REG:ENGL;) (REG:EURO;) (REG:BRIT;) (REG:SCAN;) (LANG:ENGLISH;)) ) KEYWORD: NEW DELHI, India (nnm/lak-ep) *** end of story ***
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