India is conducting a review of its standing operating procedures for operations, maintenance, and inspection of weapons systems after accidentally launching a missile into Pakistan last week, its defense minister said on Tuesday.
“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.
India accidentally released a missile, which landed in Pakistan, around 7pm last Wednesday during routine maintenance and inspection, he said.
“While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident,” Singh said.
An Indian media report said that an unarmed, practice-version of the BrahMos supersonic missile was accidentally fired into Pakistan during an inspection at a secret satellite base of the Indian Air Force.
Quoting sources in the Indian defense ministry, the report claimed that the missile followed the trajectory that it would have in case of a conflict, but “certain factors” played a role in ensuring that any pre-fed target was out of danger.
The report said that since it was “a practice missile”, it had no warheads. The report also claimed that India informed Pakistan about this “accidental firing” soon after it happened. Pakistan, however, said that India failed to immediately inform Islamabad about the accidental launch, and waited until after the Inter-Services Public Relations announced the incident and sought clarification from New Delhi.
India subsequently acknowledged the incident on Friday, chalking it up to a “technical malfunction”, and said that a “high-level court of inquiry” was ordered on the event.
The Foreign Office rejected the “simplistic explanation” offered by India and proposed a joint probe into the incident to establish the facts.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also took the issue up on Monday with his German counterpart and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had also questioned Delhi’s ability to handle sensitive technology in the wake of the incident and urged the world to consider whether India was able to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear weapon systems.
Yusuf called for an investigation into the “real circumstances surrounding” the March 9 incident “to ascertain if this was an inadvertent launch or something more intentional”, saying that “it is hard to believe anything this Indian government says.”