Tags: Pakistan | Tests | Third | Missile

Pakistan Tests Third Missile

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM

"The successful test fire of the new missile concludes for now the series of tests conducted over the last few days," said an official statement.

The Defense Ministry announced that the new missile Hatf-II -- also called Abdali after the founder of the current Afghan dynasty -- is nuclear-capable, like the previous two tested over the weekend.

"The system is capable of carrying warheads accurately up to a range of 180 kilometers [112 miles]," the statement said. "The flight data collected from the test confirmed its accuracy and all other design parameters, which were successfully validated."

President Pervez Musharraf has congratulated "the team of officers and soldiers associated with the development of the missile on their outstanding success," the state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

But the test earned an immediate rebuke from Pakistan's neighbor and nuclear rival India.

A spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry called Pakistan "highly irresponsible" and said the test failed to "impress India. We know that it is for domestic consumption," he added.

The third Pakistani missile test in as many days will also outrage the rest of the international community, which had strongly criticized the earlier two tests.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized Islamabad for conducting the missile tests, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee warned that his country's patience was running out.

U.S. President George W. Bush reminded Pakistan that "stopping terrorism is more important than testing missiles.

"I'm more concerned about making sure ... that President [Pervez} Musharraf shows results in terms of stopping people from crossing the line of control" in the disputed Kashmir region, he said.

The missile tests also have contributed to increasing tensions in South Asia and have forced world leaders to send emissaries to the region for negotiating peace.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Safanov delivered a message from President Vladimir Putin to the Pakistani government on Monday, offering to arrange an India-Pakistan peace summit.

Pakistan said it would welcome the talks and urged Russia to persuade India to participate as well.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was also headed to the region and so was Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Seiken Sugiura as the international community stepped up efforts to reduce tensions.

Washington is sending Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage to the region next week.

Talking to reporters Monday in London, Straw said: "The situation [in the subcontinent] can spin out of control and lead to a nuclear war."

More than 1 million troops have been facing each other on the India-Pakistan border for almost six months now and international observers fear that any accident could trigger a war between South Asia's two nuclear powers.

Ignited by a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on Dec. 13, tensions further increased after a similar attack on an Indian army camp on May 14 killed 32 people, mainly women and children.

India blames Pakistan for the attacks, but Musharraf said Pakistan was not involved and condemned the attacks as "acts of terrorism."

Kashmir has been disputed between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947 and has already caused two wars.

Both countries traded artillery and small arms fire across their international border and the line of control in Kashmir on Monday as well. Pakistan said the Indian firing killed six people and injured 16 across the international border in Sialkot on Monday while India said the Pakistani firing killed one soldier and injured five villagers.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The successful test fire of the new missile concludes for now the series of tests conducted over the last few days, said an official statement. The Defense Ministry announced that the new missile Hatf-II -- also called Abdali after the founder of the current Afghan...
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Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM
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