India on Wednesday justified the timing of Mission Shakti by saying that the test was done after acquiring the “required degree of confidence to ensure its success”. The statement was part of a reply to the query “Why was the test done now?” in a frequently-asked-questions list by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The test reflects the government’s intent to enhance India’s national security, the answer said. The ministry added that the purpose of the test was to verify that India has the capability to safeguard its space assets.

In an address to the nation earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India had shot down a live satellite in space and had become the fourth country to do so. He called it Mission Shakti. Opposition parties have praised scientists but criticised the government for the manner of the announcement as it comes just weeks before the Lok Sabha elections begin. The Model Code of Conduct is in place.

Providing more details, the Ministry of External Affairs said the test is significant because India has “tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology”. India used one of its own existing satellites operating in the lower orbit for the mission, the statement said..

The anti-satellite missile test was conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island launch complex off the coast of Odisha on Wednesday.

India said it is a party to all major international treaties on outer space, and expects to play a role in the drafting of international law on prevention of an arms race in outer space. The government reiterated it has no intent to enter an arms race in outer space and that it opposes its weaponisation.

The test is not directed against any country, the ministry said. “India’s space capabilities do not threaten any country and nor are they directed against anyone,” the ministry said. “At the same time, the government is committed to ensuring the country’s national security interests and is alert to threats from emerging technologies.”

The ministry added: “The capability achieved through the anti-satellite missile test provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long range missiles, and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles.”

The Kinetic Kill technology was used instead of other means because this is the technology where India has developed capability, the ministry said. “The test was conducted in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris,” the ministry said. “Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.”