New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) Former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief M. Natarajan Thursday hailed the successful Agni-V test, noting that the 5,000-km range missile will 'adequately meet' India's nuclear deterrence needs.
'This will adequately meet the country's needs. Agni-V range is reasonably adequate. This range will provide the country the comfort to the political leadership, a choice they can opt for,' he said.
Natarajan, who lives in Tirunelvelli in south Tamil Nadu, told IANS over phone from Chennai that he was 'very happy' defence scientists have provided to the country the 'comfort' and the 'choice' of a long range nuclear deterrent that the country's political leadership may want.
The DRDO chief till two years ago, Natarajan was heading the sole military R&D agency of the country when India had successfully tested and inducted the 3,000-km range Agni-III missile into the country's strategic forces.
He was specially mentioned by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in his congratulatory message to the agency over the Agni-V success, noting the former DRDO chief's 'untiring contribution'.
Asked if this missile in intended as a deterrent against China, Natarajan felt it was not necessary to raise 'that bogey', as India's deterrence needs are dictated by its own assessments of threats.
But the Agni-V missile will be enough for a second strike capability if there was a nuclear attack on India from adversaries in the immediate neighbourhood, he noted, observing that India has 'no idea of going as far as the Americas'.
Asked if he was happy with the level of indigenisation -- 80 percent -- that DRDO scientists could achieve on Agni-V, Natarajan said considering the restrictions and constraints that Indian scientists were in, the achievement was significant.
'Indigenisation will give the comfort to the country that we can produce our weapons without much restrictions,' he said listing areas such as materials, navigation and guidance systems, propellant and controls as some of the significant areas that DRDO should work on.
He also called for the private industry to get into the government agencies' efforts at indigenising defence capabilities by not looking at the quantity, but at obtaining technologies that can be exploited both for military and commercial purposes.
Natarajan said he was 'grateful' to the defence minister. 'I am personally grateful to my predecessors Dr. Arunachalam and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for their guidance and support during my service in the DRDO,' he added.
(N.C. Bipindra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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