Pakistan Tests Three Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles

Article excerpt

PAKISTAN TESTED THREE different nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in May-- its first tests since 1999. The tests come during a tense standoff between the Indian and Pakistani militaries over the disputed province of Kashmir, prompting international concern that if war breaks out, it could result in a nuclear exchange.

On May 24, Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon announced that his country would conduct a series of "routine" missile tests that were "part of technical requirements" and unrelated to the military confrontation in Kashmir. Islamabad gave advance notice of the tests to India, the United States, and several other regional and European states.

The following day, Pakistan flight-- tested for the third time its 1,300-kilometer-- range, liquid-fueled, road-mobile Haft-V missile, also known as the Ghauri. At a May 25 press conference, Memon said the test "reinforced the effectiveness and technical excellence of Pakistan's indigenous missile technology."

However, a December 2001 CIA report implied that the missile is actually a North Korean Nodong-1. Shortly after the test, Indian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao also disputed Pakistan's claim that it had indigenously developed the missile, claiming, "Pakistan has acquired the technology and the material for its missiles program clandestinely."

On May 26, Pakistan tested its 290-kilometer-range, solid-fueled, mobile Hatf-3 missile, a first for that particular missile, according to Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations Directorate. The directorate said the missile is also called the Ghaznavi, a name that the U.S. Defense Department has previously attributed to a 2000-kilometer, solid-fueled missile that is similar or perhaps identical to Pakistan's Shaheen-2.

Two days later, Pakistan completed its testing series by firing a 180-kilometer-- range, solid-fueled, mobile missile known as the Haft-2, or Abdali.

India responded with a quick but relatively muted reaction. …