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Thursday, April 15, 1999 Published at 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistan fires second missile

Pakistan's first Ghauri missile test took place last year

Pakistan has tested a second missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons - increasing the tension in its relations with India.

Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad: "There is little doubt as to the motivation for the tests"
The new medium-range missile was the Shaheen-1, the first in a new series of missiles.

It is reported to have a range of 750km - considerably less than the Ghauri-2 ballistic missile which Pakistan tested on Wednesday.

The missiles were tested in response to a similar test carried out by India on Sunday.

[ image: Shaheen: First in new series of missiles]
Shaheen: First in new series of missiles
An official at the Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission said the latest launch, at 0458 GMT, had been a success.

Officials said the test was conducted at the Sonmiani naval base, 50km from Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.

Long-range weapon

Before the missile launch on Wednesday, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told the BBC the Indian Government had broken an agreement to show restraint by testing the Agni-2 missile, and Pakistan was left with no choice if it was to maintain a strategic balance in the region.

[ image:  ]
The range of the Ghauri-2 - around 2,300km - is thought to be comparable to India's Agni-2 missile.

This would allow it to deliver warheads deep into Indian territory.

Pakistan's missile tests followed meetings on Tuesday by senior military and political figures, to discuss how to respond to the Indian test.

Pakistani officials said in private they could not afford to get into an arms race with India, according to BBC Islamabad Correspondent, Owen Bennett-Jones.

'India secure'

The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said India has achieved minimum nuclear deterrence with the Agni-2 missile tests.

"Now India is fully secured," the prime minister told members of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

But he added: "Our missile should not cause concern to anyone."

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said the two countries' missile tests would not affect peace talks.

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones: "Missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads"
In May last year, the two countries conducted tit-for-tat nuclear detonations - leading to US-backed economic sanctions.

Western diplomats believe that for all the improvements in Indo-Pakistani relations, Islamabad and Delhi remain committed to developing missile systems which could deliver nuclear warheads.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence in 1947.

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