Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
World: South Asia
India tests ballistic missile
Agni missile: Pride of India
India's test-firing of a longer-range ballistic missile has caused widespread international concern.
The United States, Britain and Japan have condemned the test, which ends a five-year period of restraint on the controversial weapon.
India' regional rival, Pakistan, has accused Delhi of harming the spirit of cooperation being fostered by both governments over the past few months.
"The government has twice proved in one year that as far as national security is concerned they will not budge," said Mr Mahajan, referring to India's nuclear tests 11 months ago.
The upgraded version of Agni has a planned range of about 2,200km (1,375 miles), which would put all of Pakistan and much of China within its target radius.
"Since they have gone ahead, we would probably have to respond, but we will make a decision in a day or two," he said.
He also said India had warned Pakistan of its intention to test the new missile, but it had not given specific details about the date or time of the test.
India still insists its missiles and nuclear programme are purely for self-defence.
Defence Minister George Fernandes said: "We have reached a point from where no one from anywhere will threaten us any more."
The United States said it regretted the missile test, which an embassy official described as "out of keeping with recent developments".
Japan also condemned the test, calling on both India and Pakistan to refrain from further missile testing.
"The missile testing could be detrimental to the peace and stability of the region," said a statement from the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Britain also joined in the calls for restraint.
"We continue to believe that restraint in developing missiles and nuclear weapons is in India's long-term interest," said a spokesman from the UK Foreign Office.
BJP's security record
After that, successive Indian Governments put further missile tests on hold, under international pressure to scale back its nuclear programme.
But last year India's Hindu nationalist-led government staged the country's first nuclear tests for nearly a quarter of a century shortly after talking office.
The tests raised fears of a regional nuclear arms race, and resulted in sanctions and widespread condemnation.
Agni II 'expected'
Our correspondent in Delhi, Daniel Lak, says Western diplomats privately say the Agni test was expected and probably inevitable, given the government's commitment to improving India's national security whatever the rest of the world might think.
The new missile test comes at a time of political instability in India, with the government facing the possibility of losing its majority when parliament reconvenes on Thursday.
A key coalition partner has threatened to withdraw from the ruling alliance, which could precipitate the government's collapse.
But announcing the missile test, Mr Mahajan denied that it had anything to do with domestic politics.