The Foreign Office on Wednesday said the firing of BrahMos nuclear-capable missile into Pakistan’s territory on March 9 had raised several questions about India’s conduct as a nuclear state including, whether it was actually an accident.
On March 9, a high-speed flying object breached the international borders of Pakistan and remained in the airspace of Pakistan for more than 3 minutes and 44 seconds before crashing inside the country.
The object covered a distance of approximately 124 kilometres in the territory of Pakistan. DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar confirmed that it was a supersonic Indian BrahMos missile, claimed to be one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world.
Read more: BrahMos misadventure: accidental or deliberate?
On Monday, The Indian Express quoted international nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as saying that it did not see the incident as any cause of “specific concern”.
“India also needs to answer questions about the underlying intentions, technical features and reliability of the missile system, safety, security and nuclear command and control protocols, and the presence of rogue elements in the Indian military,” the FO spokesperson in a press release commented on a query regarding Indian media reports quoting Director General IAEA.
The reports said the firing of BrahMos nuclear-capable missile into Pakistan’s territory from India on 9 March 2022 was not a cause for any specific concern for the IAEA.
“The report is a disingenuous attempt by the Indian state-sponsored media to absolve India of its irresponsible nuclear behaviour by directing this question at the Director General IAEA,” the spokesperson said.
The director general’s response could not be purposely misinterpreted to trivialise the incident of a nuclear-capable BrahMos missile fire with grave implications for regional and global security.
The available transcripts showed that the DG IAEA responded negatively when asked whether the IAEA had sought information from the Indian government on the incident.
It should have been qualified by stating that the IAEA has no mandate on such matters, it was further added.
“India needs to explain several repeated incidents of nuclear and radioactive material theft and illicit trafficking that are more relevant to the IAEA mandate,” the spokesperson said.
It was expected to report these nuclear security-related incidents under the IAEA Incidents and trafficking database. These critical questions, which remain unanswered, should continue to be of concern to the international community, it was added.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land.
The missile was developed as part of a joint venture between Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya initiated in 1998.
India had confirmed accidentally firing a missile into Pakistan on March 9, something Islamabad said could have triggered a major disaster and potential war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
India while admitting the accidental firing of the missile rejected the joint probe demand and instead ordered a court of inquiry.
Pakistan was praised for its mature handling of the missile fiasco as chief military spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar in his press conference soon after the incident avoided escalating the matter and instead offered India an opportunity to come clean over the issue.
Apart from seeking a joint probe, Pakistan had sought answers from India on specific questions.
Islamabad also wrote a letter to the UN Security Council urging the world body to demand from the government of India to (a) hold a joint investigation into the missile incident along with Pakistan to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident; (b) desist from any further actions that would jeopardise regional peace and security; and (c) take measures to provide reassurances to Pakistan and the world community about the security and safety of India’s weapons systems and the credibility of its command and control systems.