India test fires nuclear-capable missile Agni III

India test fired Thursday a new missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads across much of Asia and the Middle East, an official said.

An earlier test firing of the Agni III missile last July had failed when it plunged into the Bay of Bengal short of its target.

There was no immediate comment on whether the current test was successful.

The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa, a state government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

India's current crop of missiles are mostly intended for confronting neighboring archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India's longest-range missile, 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.

It's also said to be capable of carrying up to a 300-kiloton nuclear warhead.

India's missile program, together with its nuclear program and drive for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, is part of its ongoing efforts to establish itself as a world power.

India's homegrown missile arsenal already includes the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, the anti-tank Nag and the supersonic Brahmos missile, developed jointly with Russia.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova