U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday urged China and India to avoid getting bogged down in a nuclear arms race, the Hindustan Times reported.
On Sunday, India carried out a second successful test-firing of its nuclear-capable Agni 5 missile, which has a near-ICBM flight range. Indian weapon scientists after the test said they were working on another missile -- the Agni 6 -- that would have an even-greater range.
Asked during his visit to New Delhi to respond to Beijing's suspected production of a greater quantity of long-range missiles and India's push for its own first ICBM, Carter said the United States does not want to see the region become "the scene of any competition or an arms race, let alone conflict."
The Agni 6 is envisioned as being capable of carrying multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. If this capability is given to the ICBM, it could spur China into equipping its strategic missiles with MIRV warheads, nuclear weapon experts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris warned in a recent report for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.