Pakistan test fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile

The move comes less than a week after India test-launched a long-range missile

Pakistan has test fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, military officials say, less than a week after India also test-launched a long-range missile.

The military said the test of the Shaheen 1-A, an intermediate-range missile capable of reaching targets in India, was successful.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947.

They conduct regular missile tests and inform each other in advance.

Both countries carried out nuclear weapons tests in 1998.

Analysis

The Pakistani test is seen by many as a message that Islamabad is not behind in upgrading its weapons in terms of both range and delivery capacity.

The nuclear arms race in South Asia has been one of the most persistent in the world, and is known for such tit-for-tat tests.

The latest tests indicate that this race continues despite recent ground-breaking trade talks between India and Pakistan that promise to normalise relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

India has been building its defences against China and has developed missiles that can threaten a vast region from eastern Europe to Australia.

Pakistan's missile programme, which is in the hands of the military, is more India-specific. It strives for a capability to threaten as many major Indian cities as possible.

Defence experts say that while the exact range of the Pakistani missile has not been revealed, it is capable of hitting targets up to 2,500 to 3,000km (1,550 to 1,850 miles) away - putting arch-rival India well within reach.

The Agni-V long-range intercontinental ballistic missile launched by India last week has a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), potentially bringing targets in China within range.

Pakistan's last test was last month, when it launched the short-range nuclear-capable Abdali missile.

The missile tested on Wednesday landed in the sea, the military said. It is a version of the Shaheen-1 - with improvements in range and technical capabilities - and is able to carry nuclear and conventional warheads.

The military say that the missile - which successfully hit its target in the Indian Ocean - further consolidates and strengthens Pakistan's deterrence abilities.

Pakistan's missile arsenal includes short, medium and long range missiles, all named after Muslim conquerors.

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