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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 08:19 GMT
Pakistan tests mid-range missile
Pakistan-made Hatf series missiles
Missile tests are often used to score diplomatic points
Pakistan has test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads in what is its fifth missile test this year.

The army said Pakistan had informed its neighbours, including India, about the test of Hatf-III Ghaznavi.

The test comes a week after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan met for the first time for peace talks.

The two countries routinely test their missiles and observers do not expect this one to affect current peace moves.

The Hatf-III Ghaznavi missile has a range of 290km (180 miles) and can carry nuclear warheads.

"We have test-fired this missile to check its latest design," army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press.

He said the test would not have a negative impact on the peace process with neighbouring rival, India.

It (the test) is aimed at reassuring hawks in Pakistan that the Musharraf government has no plan to freeze the country's nuclear programme
Talat Masood, military analyst
The Pakistani army said in a statement that the country's "nuclear and missile programme will main the pace of development, and tests will continue to be conducted as per technical issues".

'Domestic fears'

In October, Pakistan tested a medium-range nuclear-capable missile which could hit targets deep in India.

Pakistani officials at that time said the testing of the Hatf-V Ghauri missile, which has a range of 1,500km (930 miles), was not meant to send a message to nuclear armed India.

Analysts say Pakistan's recent missile tests are aimed at placating domestic fears that the country might scale back its nuclear programme following disclosures earlier this year that a Pakistani scientist had leaked nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran.

In June, India and Pakistan had their first-ever talks aimed at building mutual trust that could reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.

The two sides agreed to set up a new telephone hotline to alert each to potential nuclear risks.

They also agreed to continue a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in place since 1998.

But tests could resume if either country believed "extraordinary events" threatened its interests.

The two countries have twice veered close to war since tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998 - over Kashmir in 1999 and again in 2002.

Both countries have limited command and control structures, and neither has developed the technology to recall a nuclear-tipped missile fired in error.

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