Pakistan successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Wednesday, the military said, less than a week after rival India tested a missile capable of delivering nuclear warheads as far as Beijing and Eastern Europe.
India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars since they were carved out of British India in 1947. They conduct missile tests regularly and inform each other in advance.
The exact range of the missile was not revealed, but retired General Talat Masood, a defense analyst, told AFP it would be able to hit targets up to 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers (1,550 to 1,850 miles) away -- putting arch-rival India well within reach.
Last Thursday, India test-fired its long range Agni V missile, which can deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead to anywhere in China.
“Pakistan today successfully conducted the launch of the intermediate range ballistic missile Hatf IV Shaheen-1A weapon system,” the military said in a statement.
Pakistan’s previous missile test took place last month with the launch of the short-range nuclear-capable Abdali.
Wednesday’s missile, which landed in the sea, was a version of the Shaheen-1 with few improvements in technical parameters, the military said, and can carry nuclear and conventional warheads.
Director General Strategic Plans Division Lieutenant General Khalid Ahmed Kidwai congratulated scientists and engineers on the successful launch, and the accuracy of the missile in reaching the target.
He said the improved version of Shaheen-1A will further consolidate and strengthen Pakistan’s deterrence abilities.
Pakistan’s arsenal includes short, medium and long range missiles named after Muslim conquerors.
Neighbors India and Pakistan were on the edge of nuclear conflict in 2002 over the disputed territory of Kashmir, but a slow-moving peace dialogue resumed last March after a three-year suspension followed the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
India and the United States blamed the attacks on Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and Islamabad later admitted that the assault was at least partly planned in Pakistan.