Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan tests medium range missile

PEACE PROCESS?Although Islamabad resumed talks with India this month in New Delhi, both nations announced important trial runs of weapons systems this week

AFP , ISLAMABAD

Pakistan test-launched a nuclear-capable medium range missile yesterday, two days after South Asian rival India conducted its first trial of a new ballistic interception system.

The Pakistani Hatf 4 or Shaheen-1 missile -- Shaheen means "eagle" in Urdu -- has a range of 700km meaning it can hit targets deep inside India.

"Pakistani troops today conducted a successful launch of the medium range Hatf 4 or Shaheen-1 missile," the military said in a statement.

The test came as part of a continuing exercise by Pakistan's Army Strategic Force Command.

On Nov. 16 Pakistan test-fired a Ghauri missile with a longer range of 1,300km.

"The event marked the culmination phase of the training exercise and validated the operational readiness of the strategic missile group equipped with Shaheen-1 Missiles," the statement said.

Pakistan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Ehsan Ul Haq witnessed the launch exercise at an undisclosed location.

He hailed "the high standards achieved during training which was reflected in the successful launch and the accuracy of the missile in reaching the target," the statement said.

"Pakistan can be justifiably proud of its defense capability and the reliability of its nuclear deterrence," he added.

India announced on Monday that its first test of a missile designed to intercept other missiles had been a success.

The test saw a surface-to-surface Prithvi-II (earth) missile, which has a range up to 250km, shot down over the Bay of Bengal by a similar missile fired seconds later.

Pakistan and India have routinely conducted missile tests since carrying out tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in May 1998, alarming the world.

Top Indian and Pakistani diplomats at a meeting in New Delhi this month agreed to create a panel to share intelligence on terrorism and move to cut the risk of nuclear weapon "accidents."

The talks rekindled a peace process put on hold since July's Mumbai train bombings, in which 189 people died.

Indian officials believed that Pakistan's foreign intelligence agency was linked to the deadly blasts, a claim that Pakistan has denied.

They also agreed on the "early signing" of an agreement to reduce the risk of "accidents relating to nuclear weapons," without giving a specific time frame.

The two sides are to meet again in Islamabad in February.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

War has twice broken out over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India and claimed by both countries in its entirety.

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