Report: India to limit missile program to aid US nuclear deal
Monday June 18, 07:35 PM
India will limit its ballistic missile program to medium-range rockets in a bid to seal a nuclear cooperation deal with the United States, news reports said Monday.
India has decided not to develop missiles with a range over 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) as a goodwill gesture toward the U.S., the CNN-IBN news channel reported, citing unidentified government officials.
The Indian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi declined to comment on the report.
The proposed nuclear deal, seen as the cornerstone of an emerging partnership between the two countries, has been stalled in recent months.
One of the biggest sticking points has been American reluctance to allow India to reprocess spent atomic fuel because of fears it would spark a nuclear arms race in Asia by allowing India to use extra nuclear fuel which the deal would provide to free up its domestic uranium for weapons.
Reprocessing fuel is a key step in making weapons-grade nuclear material.
The report said the move to limit missile range was intended to reassure the U.S. of India's peaceful intentions.
In April, India successfully test-fired the Agni 3, a new missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads across much of Asia and the Middle East.
India's current missiles are mostly intended for confronting neighboring archrival Pakistan. However, the Agni 3, India's longest-range missile, is designed to reach 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) _ putting China's major cities well into range, as well as targets deep in the Middle East.
The nuclear deal, agreed to by the two countries' leaders in July 2005, would let the U.S. provide nuclear fuel and know-how to India in exchange for safeguards and U.N. inspections at India's 14 civilian nuclear plants. Eight military plants would remain off-limits.