India, Pakistan Trade Tit-for-Tat Missile Tests

By Gordon, Rose | Arms Control Today, April 2003 | Go to article overview

India, Pakistan Trade Tit-for-Tat Missile Tests


Gordon, Rose, Arms Control Today


RETURNING TO AN old pattern of tit-for-tat missile testing, India and Pakistan each tested short-range, nuclear-capable missiles March 26. It is not clear who launched the first missile, but most media reports suggest India took the lead.

Since the back-to-back 1998 nuclear tests, a missile test by one state has usually prompted the other to respond with its own test in a face-off of missile strength and capability. This January and February, however, India tested four missiles without any response from Pakistan. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Both countries signed a joint memorandum of understanding in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1999, which requires that prior notice be given before a ballistic missile test takes place. This memorandum was signed shortly after the 1998 nuclear tests in order to engage the two states in confidence-building measures to limit the threat of an actual nuclear showdown. In a March 26 statement, however, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pakistan did not receive notice from India this time and that the missile test came as a surprise.

A spokesman with the Indian embassy in Washington said India informed "all relevant entities."

In response to a question about the possible lack of notification on India's side, an official Indian spokesperson said in a March 26 press briefing, "The confidence-building measure which will really have any meaning is for Pakistan to end its senseless perpetration of terrorism against India." India blames Pakistan for directly supporting militants who oppose Indian rule in its portion of the disputed Kashmir territory; Pakistan denies direct involvement. …

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