No indication India's missile launch into Pakistan was anything other than accident: US

Published March 15, 2022
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. — AP/File
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. — AP/File

The United States said on Monday it had "no indication" that India's missile launch into Pakistan last week was "anything other than an accident".

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price made the remarks while responding to a question about the incident, advising the journalist to reach out to the Indian Defence Ministry for a follow-up.

"We have no indication, as you also heard from our Indian partners, that this incident was anything other than an accident. We refer you, of course, to the Indian Ministry of Defence for any follow-up. They issued a statement on March 9 to explain precisely what had happened. We don't have a comment beyond that," Price said in a press briefing.

India had actually issued a statement on March 11, a day after Pakistan's military highlighted the issue in a press conference and two days after the actual launch of the missile.

Referring to the arrest of seven people suspected to be part of a national gang involved in illegal uranium trade in India in June last year, the journalist then asked Price whether the US had ever raised concerns with India after the incident or talked about it in diplomatic conversations.

The US State Department spokesperson responded, "I'm not familiar with that particular incident. What I would say is that nuclear safety around the world, especially in countries — nuclear-armed countries, it is always a conversation that is ongoing."

'High-speed flying object' falls in Mian Channu

Last week, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had shared details of an Indian "high-speed flying object" that fell in Mian Channu, Khanewal district.

"On March 9, at 6:43pm, a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by Air Defence Operations Centre of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). From its initial course, the object suddenly manoeuvred towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan's air space, ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50pm," he disclosed.

"When it fell, it damaged civilian properties," he said, adding no loss of life was reported.

Air Vice Marshall Tariq Zia, who addressed the press conference alongside the DG ISPR, told the media that at the time the projectile was picked up, there were two airway routes active and several commercial airlines were in the area.

"If you look at the speed and height of the projectile, it was 40,000 feet high, and the airlines were between 35,000 to 42,000 feet. This could have been very detrimental to the safety of passengers."

The projectile travelled 124 kilometres inside Pakistani territory in three minutes and 44 seconds, he added.

India regrets 'accident'

A day later, the Indian Defence Ministry had issued a statement, regretting that a missile "accidentally" entered Pakistan and attributed the incident to a "technical malfunction".

"The government has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level court of enquiry," the statement added.

Pakistan also proposed to New Delhi a joint probe into the incident to establish facts since the missile had landed into Pakistani territory.

The Foreign Office (FO) also asked why India failed to inform Pakistan immediately about the "accidental launch" of the missile and raised questions regarding the Indian safeguards against such happenings.

The FO believes "many loo­pholes and technical lap­ses" in Indian handling of strategic weapons led to the incident.

Earlier today, the Indian defence minister said the country is conducting a review of its standing operating procedures for operations, maintenance and inspection of weapons systems.

"We attach the highest priority to the safety and security of our weapon systems. If any shortcoming is found, it would be immediately rectified," Rajnath Singh told parliament.

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