Pakistan Missile Test A Success

In this photo released by Pakistan's Defense Ministry, Pakistan's ballistic missile Hatf VI (Shaheen II) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, lifts off at an undisclosed location in Pakistan on Saturday, April 29, 2006. AP Photo

Pakistan on Saturday successfully test fired its longest-range nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile, the military said.

The ballistic Missile Hatf VI (Shaheen II), with a range of 1,555 miles, can carry "nuclear and conventional warheads with high accuracy," a Pakistan military statement said.

The upgraded and new version of the Shaheen II missile was carried "to validate additional technical parameters beyond those that were verified in the last test fire in March 2005," it said.

The statement said the Shaheen II missile is Pakistan's longest-range missile.

An earlier version of the missile was tested in March 2005 and proved capable of hitting major cities in neighboring India.

Pakistan informed all its neighbors, including India, in advance of the test, said an official at the foreign ministry, adding that the missile test would not damage improving relations between the two.

"No, it will not hurt the peace process," said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The military statement did not disclose where the latest test was conducted.

After witnessing the missile test, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz congratulated the scientists, engineers and the technical staff for "achieving yet another milestone on the road to success."

Aziz also said Pakistan's strategy of credible minimum deterrence was fully in place and served as a guarantee of peace in the region.

In a separate statement, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf congratulated Pakistan on its successful missile test.

Pakistan, which became a nuclear power in 1998 by conducting underground tests in response to similar tests in India, has a variety of short, medium and long-range missiles that officials say have been developed indigenously.

Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
By Munir Ahmad
  • William Vitka

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