Posts Tagged ‘ Pyongyang ’

India Tests Nuclear Missile That Can Hit Beijing

As Reported By The Associated Press

India announced Thursday that it had successfully test launched a new nuclear-capable missile that would give it, for the first time, the capability of striking the major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

The government has hailed the Agni-V missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), as a major boost to its efforts to counter China’s regional dominance and become an Asian power in its own right.

The head of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, Vijay Saraswat, said the missile was launched at 8:07 a.m. from Wheeler Island off India’s east coast.

It rose to an altitude of more than 600 kilometers (370 miles), its three stages worked properly and its payload was deployed as planned, he told Times Now news channel.

“India has emerged from this launch as a major missile power,” he said.

The window for the launch opened Wednesday night, but the test had to be postponed because of weather conditions.

Avinash Chandra, mission director for the test, said that when the launch took place Thursday morning the missile performed as planned.

“We have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve in this mission,” he told Times Now.

The Agni-V is a solid-fuel, three-stage missile designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead. It stands 17.5 meters (57 feet) tall, has a launch weight of 50 tons and was built at a reported cost of 25 billion rupees ($486 million). It can be moved across the country by road or rail and can be used to carry multiple warheads or to launch satellites into orbit.

The missile will need four or five more trials before it can be inducted into India’s arsenal at some point in 2014 or 2015, Indian officials said.

China is far ahead of India in the missile race, with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in India. Currently, the longest-range Indian missile, the Agni-III, has a range of only 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) and falls short of many major Chinese cities.

India hailed Thursday’s test as a major step in its fight to be seen as a world power.

“India has today become a nation with the capability to develop, produce, build long-range ballistic missiles and today we are among the six countries who have this capability,” Saraswat said.

India and China fought a war in 1962 and continue to nurse a border dispute. India has also been suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean in recent years.

“While China doesn’t really consider India any kind of a threat or any kind of a rival, India definitely doesn’t think in the same way,” said Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst in New Delhi.

India already has the capability of hitting anywhere inside archrival Pakistan, but has engaged in a splurge of defense spending in recent years to counter the perceived Chinese threat.

The Indian navy took command of a Russian nuclear submarine earlier this year, and India is expected to take delivery of a retrofitted Soviet-built aircraft carrier soon.

The new Agni, named for the Hindi word for fire, is part of this military buildup and was designed to hit deep inside China, Bedi said.

Government officials said the missile should not be seen as a threat.

“We have a declared no-first-use policy, and all our missile systems, they are not country specific. There is no threat to anybody,” said Ravi Gupta, spokesman for the Defense Research and Development Organization, which built the missile. “Our missile systems are purely for deterrence and to meet our security needs.”

The test came days after North Korea‘s failed long-range rocket launch. North Korea said the rocket was launched to put a satellite into space, but the U.S. and other countries said it was a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

One Delhi-based Western diplomat dismissed comparisons with the international condemnation of North Korea’s launch, saying that Pyongyang was violating U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring it to suspend its missile program, while India is not considered a global threat. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on India’s security affairs.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States urges all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities.

“That said, India has a solid non-proliferation record,” he told a news briefing. “They’re engaged with the international community on non-proliferation issues.”

Some reports characterized the Agni-V as an intercontinental ballistic missile — which would make India one of the few countries to have that capability — but Gupta and analysts said its range fell short of that category.

India has no need for such sophisticated weapons, said Rajaram Nagappa, a missile expert and the head of the International Strategic and Security Studies Program at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore.

“I don’t think our threat perceptions are anything beyond this region,” he said.

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Playboy Son of Norh Korean Leader Raps Succession Plan

By Anita Chang for The Assoicated Press

BEIJING – The casino-loving eldest son of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il — once tipped to succeed him before trying to sneak into Japan to go to Disneyland — says he opposes a hereditary transfer of power to his youngest half-brother.

It’s the first public sign of discord in the tightly choreographed succession process, though analysts said Kim Jong Nam spends so much time outside his native land that his opinion carries little weight.

The chubby 39-year-old Kim, the oldest of three brothers who were in the running to take over secretive North Korea, is the closest thing the country has to a playboy.

Unlike many of his countrymen back home who lack the resources and connections to travel overseas, Kim travels freely and spends much of his time in China or the country’s special autonomous region of Macau — the center of Asian gambling with its Las Vegas-style casinos.

He sports the family pot belly and favors newsboy caps and an unshaven face, while frequenting five-star hotels and expensive restaurants. In June, he was photographed in Macau wearing blue Ferragamo loafers.

Speaking in Korean, he told Japan’s TV Asahi, in an interview from Beijing aired late Monday and Tuesday, that he is “against third-generation succession,” but added, “I think there were internal factors. If there were internal factors, (we) should abide by them.”

“I have no regrets about it. I wasn’t interested in it and I don’t care,” Kim said, when asked whether he is OK with the succession plan.

Kim said he hopes his brother will do his best to bring abundance to the lives of North Koreans and that he stands ready to help from abroad, according to a dubbed Japanese-language version of his remarks.

Kim Jong Un, believed to be 26, appeared with his father at Pyongyang celebrations on Sunday marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party, saluting troops marching past in a massive military parade and waving to the crowd. The appearance was less than two weeks after he was named to a top political post and promoted to four-star general.

Andrei Lankov, a Russian expert on North Korea at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said Kim Jong Nam’s remarks were “almost a challenge,” but noted he has little influence due to the considerable time he spends abroad and lacks military support.

“I don’t see them rallying to Kim Jong Nam,” he added, emphasizing that key generals who run the military far prefer Kim Jong Un, who they see as young, inexperienced and thus easy to control.

Kim Jong Il is known to have three sons — one from his second wife and two from his third. He favors his youngest, Jong Un, who looks and is said to act like his father, according to the leader’s former sushi chef. He studied at a Swiss school and learned to speak English, German and French, news reports have said.

In contrast, Kim often derided the middle son, Jong Chul, as “girlish,” the chef, who goes by the pen name Kenji Fujimoto, said in a 2003 memoir. Little is publicly known about the brother, except that he also studied in Switzerland and is a fan of U.S. professional basketball.

Jong Nam is widely believed to have fallen out of favor after embarrassing the government in 2001 by being caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Experts said Kim Jong Nam will most likely continue living abroad, with fewer reasons than ever to return to Pyongyang.

“In the future Kim Jong Nam will have little influence on the political situation in North Korea. It’s very unlikely he will go back. His force within the country is now almost nonexistent,” said Cai Jian, deputy director of the Center for Korean Studies in Shanghai’s Fudan University.

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