Soon after India claimed that its test-launch of an indigenously-developed, nuclear capable K-4 ballistic missile from a submerged platform in the Bay of Bengal (on March 21) was a “roaring success”, the US expressed serious concerns over the launch, saying that such actions would increase the risk to nuclear security in South Asia. The US also said that the test-launch could have a negative impact on the regional security.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington on March 25, senior State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the Barack Obama administration would urge India and other countries with nuclear weapons to exercise restraint. According to the spokesperson, India, Pakistan and China’s missile and nuclear capabilities are worrisome. Toner told the media that President Obama would share the US’ concerns with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, the State Department official admitted that it might not be possible for the US to ask India to scrap its ballistic missile programme. He argued that the US could not dictate terms to other countries. Asked about the topics of discussions between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, Toner said: “I don’t want to get into specifics of our bilateral conversations with India. But, we have long encouraged efforts to promote confidence building, stability and discourage any actions that might destabilise the region.”

Earlier, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said in a statement that it successfully launched the missile from a submerged replica of a submarine from around 30 feet deep. According to the statement, the missile broke the water surface before staging separation and maintaining the ballistic trajectory and also achieved all parameters before zeroing in on the pre-designated target with high accuracy. During the test launch, the sophisticated missile took just nine minutes and 36 seconds to cover a distance of 700km.

The K-4 is an intermediate-range nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile with an alleged range of up to 3,500km. The missile is capable of carrying a nuclear or conventional payload of more than 2,000kg. Currently, DRDO works on another variant of the K-missile with a 5,000km range.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]