Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that India had joined a super league of space powers by successfully testing an anti-satellite missile that shot down a low-Earth orbit satellite. India's action was not directed against any country but was a demonstration of its capability of targeting satellites.
"I assure the international community that our capability won't be used against anyone but is purely India's defence initiative for its security. We're against arms race in space. This test won't breach any international law or treaties," PM Modi said in an unusual television address to the nation just weeks before the national election.
The capability, he added, was crucial for national security.
"India has today established its name as a space power," said the PM, adding that Indian scientists had used an anti-satellite or ASAT missile to bring down a live satellite 300 km away in space in what is called a low-Earth orbit.
India's current range of strategic missiles is mostly intended for deterrence against China and Pakistan.
In 2007, China first used a ballistic missile to destroy its own old weather satellite orbiting 535 miles (861 km) above Earth. Russia has been testing a missile that could be used to strike and destroy a satellite or ballistic missile.
"India stands tall as a space power. It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony," said PM Modi.
India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the US, Russia and China, said the Prime Minister.
"The ASAT missile will give new strength to India's space programme," he remarked.
"Mission Shakti was a highly complex one, conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision. It shows the remarkable dexterity of India's outstanding scientists and the success of our space programme."
Soon after the PM's address, the Ministry of External Affairs made the same point in an FAQ on "Mission Shakti".
"The test isn't directed against any country. India's space capabilities don't threaten any country nor are they directed against anyone. At the same time, the government is committed to ensuring the country's national security interests and is alert to threats from emerging technologies," said the foreign ministry.