Pakistan warned Monday of a new nuclear arms race after India launched its first homegrown nuclear submarine, joining only five other countries that have developed such vessels.

Salman Ali, a spokesman for Pakistan's navy, said that Sunday's launch of the 6,000-ton Arihant, or "Destroyer of Enemies," could destabilize the entire Indian Ocean region.

The Arihant is the first of five planned submarines that are designed to give India the capability to launch nuclear missiles from the sea, as well as from land and air.

It is part of a multibillion-dollar program to modernize India's armed forces, in large part to try to catch up with China — the dominant Asian military power, which already has at least 10 nuclear submarines.

But it also gives India a strategic advantage over Pakistan, its traditional enemy, with whom it has fought three wars since the two countries won independence from Britain in 1947.

Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister, hailed a "historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness" at a ceremony marking the submarine's launch in the southern port city of Vishakhapatnam.

"We do not have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone ... Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide."

India currently has 16 diesel-electric submarines of Soviet and German origin, which are all 25-40 years old, according to defence officials. Pakistan has 11 diesel-electric submarines.

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