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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 06:16 GMT
Pakistan tests 'nuclear' missile
Pakistan-made Hatf series missiles
Pakistan and India routinely carry out missile tests
Pakistan has test-fired a short-range nuclear-capable missile, the second in just over a week, officials said.

The latest test came nine days after Pakistan test fired a medium-range missile, and said it would carry out more tests in the coming days.

A day later, India tested a missile in apparent response.

Pakistan said its latest missile test would not have a negative effect on current peace moves with its nuclear-armed neighbour.

Pakistan's Hatf-IV Shaheen missile, which has a range of 700km (435 miles), was launched from an undisclosed location.

Pakistan army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press that the test was carried out for "defence needs".

It is not a signal to India. Maintaining our nuclear deterrence is a national priority
Masood Khan, foreign ministry spokesman
A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said that the launch was not meant to send any message to neighbouring rival, India.

"It is not a signal to India. Maintaining our nuclear deterrence is a national priority," Masood Khan told the AFP news agency.

"Such tests are conducted periodically to validate technical parameters of our missile tests."

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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