Pakistan Test-Fires Nuclear Capable Missile
Pakistan conducted its fourth test this year of a nuclear-capable missile Tuesday, test-firing the intermediate Ghauri missile, which can hit targets deep inside rival neighbour India.
"Pakistan this morning carried out another successful test of the indigenously produced intermediate range Ballistic Missile Hatf V (Ghauri)," a military statement said.
The Hatf V (Ghauri), with a range of 1,500 kilometres (932 miles), was test-fired as "part of a series of tests planned for the Ghauri missile system."
"The test completely validated all the design parameters," the statement said, adding the Ghauri "can carry nuclear and other warheads."
The Hatf V was tested twice this year, on May 29 and June 4 and the long-range Shaheen missile was tested on March 9.
Neighbouring states were notified beforehand, it added, and an Indian official in New Delhi said it had been informed in advance of the test in accordance with agreed protocols.
The tests this year have been seen less as sabre-rattling against India, with whom Pakistan is in the middle of a step-by-step peace process, and more for domestic consumption.
Analysts say they are aimed at placating domestic fears that the nuclear proliferation scandal surrounding top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who confessed in February to selling nuclear secrets and technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, would force Pakistan to wind back its nuclear program.
"Fears about the roll back of Pakistan's nuclear program will never go away," the former head of Pakistan's military spy agency ISI, retired lieutenant general Hameed Gul told AFP.
"Israel does not want a Muslim state to possess nuclear weapons," he said.
Military analyst and retired general Talat Masood said Pakistan had to aggressively pursue its nuclear and missile program to offset the conventional military imbalance with arch rival India.
"The test also coincides with the fifth anniversary of General Musharraf in power," Masood said.
Musharraf, also army chief, led a bloodless army coup against the elected government of premier Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999, suspending parliaments and declaring himself president 21 months later.
The Ghauri is believed to be based on North Korea's Nodong missile.
Ex-premier Benazir Bhutto admitted in a Japanese newspaper interview in July that her government had obtained long-range missile technology from North Korea through her December 1993 visit.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, military top brass and scientists witnessed the test at an undisclosed, the military statement said.
President Pervez Musharraf in July foreshadowed an "extremely important substantive" missile test in the following months, as he responded to speculation that Pakistan might roll-back its nuclear and missile programs under pressure from Washington over the proliferation scandal, and under peace moves with India.
"This would be a great test," he told journalists at the time.
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