Austria's foreign policy chief on Thursday strongly criticized Pakistan and India's recent ballistic missile trial launches, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 26).
New Delhi last week conducted its first flight test of the Agni 5, a nuclear-capable missile with near-ICBM capabilities that is seen as aimed primarily at deterring China. Less than a week later, Pakistan test-fired an updated version of its nuclear-ready midrange Shaheen 1A missile.
In released remarks, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said, "The tests of an Indian long-range missile a week ago and of an intermediate-range missile by Pakistan on Wednesday are unsettling and suggest an intensifying arms race on the subcontinent."
A South Asian nuclear arms race "would not only be a threat to stability in Asia but would also present a threat to global peace," the minister said.
A recent independent analysis concluded that an atomic exchange between Islamabad and New Delhi would produce airborne radioactive contamination that would poison far-off crop fields and lower worldwide precipitation and heat levels -- disrupting global food production and possibly leading to the starvation of in excess of 1 billion people (see GSN, April 25).
"It is flat out irresponsible that the Sword of Damocles that is nuclear destruction still hangs above humanity," Spindelegger said.
Pakistan and India have over the decades fought three limited wars, though the longtime antagonists in recent months have made cautious steps toward improving bilateral relations through high-profile diplomatic exchanges and trade meetings.
Spindelegger called for the two states to pursue actions toward eliminating their nuclear arsenals (Agence France-Presse/Economic Times, April 26).
The United States refrained from condemning Pakistan's missile trial, instead saying it was "most important" that prior notice of the launch had been communicated to India, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.
The neighboring nations have agreed to alert each other ahead of missile tests.
"We obviously, you know (have) the same message that we gave at the time of the Indian test: that we urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said to journalists.
"What's most important is that they do seem to have taken steps to inform the Indians, and we, as you know, are quite intent on those two countries continuing to work together and improve their dialogue," she continued.
Nuland said she was not certain but did believe Islamabad had given Washington prior notice of its missile launch plans (Indo-Asian News Service/Yahoo!News, April 26).
Separately, India on Thursday used a four-stage rocket to successfully place in orbit the nation's first domestically developed reconnaissance satellite, Kyodo News reported.
In congratulatory remarks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "The 20th consecutive successful launch of the [Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle] is an important milestone in our space program and is testimony to [the Indian Space Research Organization's] mastery of the complex launch vehicle technology."
Singh said the orbiter would "significantly contribute to the nation's remote sensing capabilities."
No details were provided on the reconnaissance platform's military uses (Kyodo News/Mainichi Daily News, April 26).