US has cautioned against an arms race between India and China following a top Indian defence scientist’s claim that the country had the capabilities to build strategic missiles that could strike targets more than 10,000 km away.
US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter said on Wednesday that Washington did not believe that the Asia-Pacific region should be “the scene of any competition or an arms race, let alone conflict.”
Carter was asked to comment on China’s growing stockpile of strategic missiles seen against the backdrop of India’s capabilities to build intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
India had on Sunday successfully test-fired the 5,000 km-plus range Agni-V missile for the second time. The missile will arm India with the capability of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in China.
A day later, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander declared that the country could build 10,000-km range ICBMs within two-and-a-half years, if required. Only five countries — the US, UK, Russia, France and China possess ICBM capability.
China is believed to have a nuclear arsenal of more than 55 strategic missiles. The 14,000-km range Dong Feng-31 Chinese missile can strike targets anywhere on the planet.
The US is giving more attention to Asia-Pacific in what Pentagon calls “rebalancing” in the region, including China’s strategic backyard.
“It is not aimed at China. It is the restoration of the historic role that the US has played in the region,” said Carter, who during his New Delhi visit sought to explore opportunities for co-development and co-production of weapon systems.
He said the US and India could work jointly on anti-tank guided missiles, equipment for aircraft carriers and transport planes.
He said US would provide priority funding to American defence research companies that collaborate with Indian firms to work on new technologies.