April 29, 2006

Pakistan test-fires long-range ballistic miss

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan, keen to maintain the
balance of power with nuclear rival India, on Saturday
test-fired a nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface ballistic
missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles).

Pakistan and India, which stunned the world with
tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998, embarked on a peace process
just over two years ago after going to the brink of a fourth
war in mid-2002.

But Pakistan is concerned over recent U.S. promises of
high-tech aid for rival India, fearing it could help New Delhi
build its defense capability.

"Pakistan today carried out a successful test fire of its
long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Hatf VI
(Shaheen II) with outstanding results," Pakistan's
Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.

The Hatf VI is a two-stage solid fuel missile which can
carry nuclear and conventional warheads with high accuracy, the
statement said. An advanced version has a potential range of
2,500 km (1,560 miles).

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz witnessed the test, which took
place at an undisclosed location.

"Pakistan's strategy of credible minimum deterrence is
fully in place and is a guarantee of peace in the region," he
was quoted as saying.

"We will continue to pursue vigorously our security and
energy needs from all sources including nuclear," Aziz said.

Pakistan and India have signed an agreement to notify each
other about ballistic missile testing ahead of the event but
the pre-notification of cruise missile tests is excluded from
the treaty.

India already has cruise missiles that can be launched from