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Nuclear-capable long-range missile successfully test fired by Pakistan

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan successfully test fired a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on Saturday, the military said.

The Shaheen-2 missile was launched from an undisclosed location and has a range of 1,245 miles. The military said the missile has the capability to carry conventional and non-conventional warheads.

Saturday's launch was witnessed by new Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, who congratulated the scientists and engineers for "achieving an important milestone in Pakistan's quest for sustaining strategic balance in South Asia," the military said in a statement.

It quoted Gilani as saying that the defense needs of the country would remain a "high priority" for his elected government.

Although Pakistan routinely tests various versions of missiles in its arsenal, the latest one came weeks after a new government, dominated by the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, took office after winning elections in February.

Pakistan became a declared nuclear power in 1998 by conducting nuclear tests in response to those carried out by neighboring India. Islamabad test fired its first missile the same year.

Since then, Pakistan and India have routinely tested their missiles.

Saturday's test came about two months after Pakistan test-fired a short-range Ghazanvi missile with a range of 180 miles.

Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

However, relations have improved since 2004, when the two countries started a peace process to resolve outstanding disputes, including competing claims to the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.


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