Sunday May 29, 2022

US declares India's missile fire into Pakistan 'nothing but an accident'

"We have no indication, as you also heard from our Indian partners, that this incident was anything other than an accident," says Ned Price

By Web Desk
March 15, 2022
United States Department of State spokesman Ned Price. Photo: AFP/file
United States Department of State spokesman Ned Price. Photo: AFP/file 

WASHINGTON: Declaring the recent incident of Indian violation of Pakistani airspace by launching a projectile as "nothing but an accident",  United States Department of State spokesman Ned Price refused to comment on the matter.

An Indian projectile had entered the Pakistani airspace on March 9, which fell near Mian Channu in Khanewal district within a few minutes, causing some damage to the surrounding areas, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar had said Thursday.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Ned Price said that India has declared the landing of an Indian-origin missile into Pakistani territory an "accident" and the US has nothing to say beyond the explanation given by India.

"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 9th to explain precisely what had happened. We don’t have a comment beyond that," Price said.

When asked if Price on behalf of the State Department has raised concerns on reports of Uranium theft and arrest of Indian citizens over smuggling Uranium, he said that he "is not familiar with that particular incident."

However, he said that "nuclear safety around the world is a conversation that is always ongoing" in diplomatic talks with nuclear-armed countries.

Speaking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Price said that the US is in contact with its South Asian allies on the matter.

India accepted it "accidentally" fired a missile

Earlier, India accepted it "accidentally" fired a missile into Pakistan because of a "technical malfunction" during routine maintenance.

"On 9 March 2022, in the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile," the Indian government had said in a statement.

"It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident."

“The Government of India has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry,” the statement had added.

Pakistan demands 'joint probe'

After the clarification by India, Pakistan regretted the transgression of the Indian-origin missile into its territory and demanded a "joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident."

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said that the grave nature of the incident raised several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against the "accidental or unauthorised launch of missiles in a nuclearised environment."

"Such a serious matter cannot be addressed with the simplistic explanation proffered by the Indian authorities," the FO statement read.

The ministry had also asked following questions from India: 

  • India must explain the measures and procedures in place to prevent accidental missile launches and the particular circumstances of this incident.
  • India needs to clearly explain the type and specifications of the missile that fell in Pakistani territory.
  • India also needs to explain the flight path/ trajectory of the accidentally launched missile and how it ultimately turned and entered Pakistan?
  • Was the missile equipped with self-destruct mechanism? Why did it fail to actualise?
  • Are Indian missiles kept primed for launch even under routine maintenance?
  • Why did India fail to immediately inform Pakistan about the accidental launch of the missile and waited to acknowledge it till after Pakistan announced the incident and sought clarification?
  • Given the profound level of incompetence, India needs to explain if the missile was indeed handled by its armed forces or some rogue elements?

"The whole incident indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of serious nature in Indian handling of strategic weapons," it had said, adding that the Indian decision to hold an internal court of inquiry is "not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory."