portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

government | imperialism & war | political theory

Pakistan tests 'nuclear' missile

Pakistan tests 'nuclear' missile
source :  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3735380.stm

Pakistan tests 'nuclear' missile

Missile tests are often used to score diplomatic points

Pakistan has tested a medium-range nuclear-capable missile which could hit targets deep in neighbouring India.

Islamabad said the test of the Hatf-V Ghauri was not meant to send a message to its nuclear-armed neighbour.

India and Pakistan routinely test their missiles and observers do not expect this one to affect current peace moves.

On Tuesday, border guards from the two sides met in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh for talks on policing their common frontier.

The Hatf-V Ghauri missile has a range of 1,500km (930 miles) and can carry nuclear warheads.

A senior Pakistani defence official told the Associated Press that India and other neighbouring countries had been given prior warning of the test.

The test comes on the fifth anniversary of General Pervez Musharraf seizing power in a bloodless coup in which he deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

'Placating fears'

President Musharraf had said in July that his country would conduct an "important" missile test by October.

Analysts say the test is aimed at placating domestic fears that Pakistan might scale back its nuclear programme following disclosures earlier this year that a Pakistani scientist had leaked nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

"Fears about the roll-back of Pakistan's nuclear programme will never go away," former head of the country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency Hameed Gul told French news agency AFP.

In June, India and Pakistan had their first-ever talks aimed at building mutual trust that could reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.

The two sides agreed to set up a new telephone hotline to alert each to potential nuclear risks.

They also agreed to continue a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in place since 1998.

But tests could resume if either country believed "extraordinary events" threatened its interests.

The two countries have twice veered close to war since tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998 - over Kashmir in 1999 and again in 2002.

Both countries have limited command and control structures, and neither has developed the technology to recall a nuclear-tipped missile fired in error.