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The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"Commentators say guidance systems and accuracy were apparently the main focus"
 real 28k

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad
"There is still a lot of optimism about the resumption of a peace process in the region"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 15:17 GMT
Indian missile test angers Pakistan
An earlier version of the Agni at India's Republic Day parade
An earlier version of the Agni at India's Republic Day parade
Pakistan has reacted strongly after India test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

A Pakistani spokesman described it as part of India's nuclear ambitions which posed a direct threat to Pakistan's security.

The Agni-II is said to have a range of more than 2,000km - which would reach targets anywhere in Pakistan and deep in China.


India's nuclear ambitions... have a destabilising effect on the region

Pakistani spokesman
"India's nuclear ambitions, which are clear from its draft nuclear doctrine announced in 1999, have a destabilising effect on the region," the Pakistani spokesman said.

Pakistan has itself test-fired missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and hitting deep inside India.

India carried out an earlier test of the Agni-II nearly two years ago and drew strong protests from the United States, Britain and Pakistan.

Wednesday's launch of an improved version of the missile took place at a range in Chandipur, in the eastern state of Orissa, at 1000 (0430 GMT).

Defence experts say the test focussed on the guidance systems and accuracy of the missile.

Jiang Zemin and Pervez Musharraf
India's neighbours will be concerned
The missile, which had a payload of one tonne, was fired from a mobile launcher.

"Flight test results have indicated that mission objectives were met satisfactorily," the defence ministry said in a statement.

Defence Minister George Fernandes, Air Force Chief AY Tipnis and other senior defence officials were present at the test.

Deterrent

Analysts describe the Agni-II as an important part of the new generation of nuclear-capable weaponry which India has been developing since it declared itself a nuclear state in 1998.

A key motivation has been to provide an effective deterrent to possible Chinese and Pakistani aggression.

In the past, India has seen both as prime security threats, but recently there have been signs of an apparent decline in hostility.

Delhi and Islamabad appear to be making tentative steps towards a possible resumption of dialogue over Kashmir.

And senior Chinese leader, Li Peng, has been visiting India.

He emerged from talks with India's top leaders last week, emphasising the importance of mutual co-operation and saying neither country was a threat to the other.

But the BBC's Delhi correspondent, Jill McGivering, says news of the test is likely to fuel concerns in the international community about the stability of South Asia.

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See also:

18 Aug 99 | South Asia
India stands firm on nuclear deterrence
02 May 00 | World
The world's nuclear arsenal
16 Apr 99 | South Asia
India fires new missile
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
South Asia's nuclear race
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