India successfully test-fires a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile

  • The nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM was fired from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha at around 9:53 a.m. local time (11:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday)
  • The same missile has been tested five times over the past six years, with the most recent test prior to Thursday's launch coming in December 2016
  • Relations between China and India deteriorated significantly in 2017, following a protracted border dispute in the western Himalayas
The long range ballistic Agni-V missile is displayed during the full dress rehearsal for the annual Republic Day parade 2013 at Rajpath on January 23, 2013 in New Delhi, India.
Sonu Mehta | Hindustan Times via Getty Images
The long range ballistic Agni-V missile is displayed during the full dress rehearsal for the annual Republic Day parade 2013 at Rajpath on January 23, 2013 in New Delhi, India.

India successfully launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday.

The nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM was fired from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha at around 9:53 a.m. local time (11:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday).

India's Defense Ministry said the test was a "major boost" to the country's defense capabilities.

The same missile has been tested five times over the past six years, with the most recent test prior to Thursday's launch coming in December 2016. That test prompted exasperation from two of New Delhi's most important continental rivals, China and Pakistan.

Relations between China and India deteriorated significantly in 2017, following a protracted border dispute in the western Himalayas. And given the world's two biggest emerging economies are both equipped with nuclear weapons, observers were fearful of escalating geopolitical tensions.

'Bring India down a peg'

The Federation of American Scientists estimates that India has around 120 to 130 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, while China is believed to possess around 270. Pakistan's military stockpile is thought to be within the region of 130 to 140.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed concern over India's development of ICBMs.

Shailesh Kumar, senior analyst for Asia at Eurasia Group, wrote in a blog post Friday that Pakistan's biggest priority was to "bring India down a peg."

Meanwhile, Kumar said the U.S. had a natural interest in "building India as a regional power, in part to counter China, and has advanced the U.S.-India strategic partnership and furnished New Delhi with the latest defense technology."