With much less fanfare — and international condemnation — India says it successfully tested a long-range nuclear-capable missile that has the ability to reach Beijing and other Chinese cities. While the missile isn't not yet fully operational, it does place India alongside the five major nuclear powers (and U.N. Security Council permanent members) as the only nations to have intercontinental nuclear missiles.
The test launch comes less than a week after North Korea's embarrassing failure while testing its own long range weapon program, a test that elicited a much different reaction from the international community. While that debacle was met with anger and threats of more sanctions, today's move has been met mostly with yawns. Obviously, that's because India is considered an ally of the U.S. and NATO and has earned a much higher standing on the world stage. But it's hard not to notice that no one in the West gets bent out of shape when it's China that finds itself suddenly threatened by a regional neighbor. (Even though the new Agni V missile could also hit Europe.)
China, while not openly condemning the launch, did express disapproval while also trying to downplay the development. According to Al Jazeera, China's state-run TV said the missile "does not pose a threat in reality" and the People's Daily newspaper said "India should not overestimate its strength." Thought separated by the Himalayas, the two countries have fought a war in the past and occasionally spar over the Tibetan "government in exile" that calls India home. See this recent self-immolation of Tibetan exile (WARNING: photos are graphic) to find out that's going.
There's also the matter of Pakistan, which doesn't need ICBM's to hit India (or vice versa), but may feel the need to rattle its own sabers in response. Everyone may trust India to do the right thing, but they aren't the only variable in this equation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.