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India missile test has few critics, unlike NKorea

By Ravi Nessman

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 9:31 a.m. MDT

Even archrival Pakistan, already in range of India's less advanced missiles, showed no concern, with foreign office spokesman Mozzam Ahmed Khan saying only that India had informed it of the test ahead of time in line with an agreement they have.

Before the launch, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington that the United States urges all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities.

"That said, India has a solid nonproliferation record," he told a news briefing. "They're engaged with the international community on nonproliferation issues."

That, analysts say, is the major difference.

North Korea has been banned by the U.N. from testing missiles and has been accused of selling missile and nuclear technology to other states.

India never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so is not in violation of it, Bedi said. The U.S. deal that accepted it as a nuclear power has been buttressed by its record of not giving weapons to other states.

"There's a certain amount of acceptability of India," he said. "In that sense, I think India has crossed a certain milestone."

C. Uday Bhaskar, the former head of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, said there is no need for global concern over India's rising power.

"India is a force that contributes to global stability, so enhancing India's profile is good for the world," he said. "I don't think you could say the same for North Korea."

China remains 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 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) and falls short of many major Chinese cities.

Though there was no official Chinese reaction to the test, the Global Times, a newspaper published by the Communist Party's official mouthpiece, the People's Daily, warned India not to get arrogant and overestimate its strength.

"India should be clear that China's nuclear power is stronger and more reliable. For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China," it said in an editorial.

Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington in Washington and Scott McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.

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