Pakistan tests nuclear-capable ballistic missile days after archenemy India’s launch

(CBS/AP) ISLAMABAD – Pakistan successfully launched an upgraded ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead Wednesday, days after its neighbor and archenemy India conducted its own missile test, the Pakistani military said.

The Hatf IV Shaheen-1A missile was launched into the sea, the military said in a written statement.

It was described as an intermediate-range missile having a longer range than its predecessor, the Shaheen-1, which is believed to fly up to 465 miles.

India tests missile capable of reaching Beijing

“The improved version of Shaheen-1A will further consolidate and strengthen Pakistan’s deterrence abilities,” said Lt. Gen. Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, who witnessed the launch and is responsible for the country’s nuclear program.

India announced last Thursday that it had successfully test-launched a new nuclear-capable, long-range missile, the Agni-V, which has a range of 3,100 miles.

A western official noted that Pakistan’s missile test came with the dual purpose of demonstrating to India that the country not only continues to actively develop its missile program but also has the means to strike at targets from deep inside Pakistan, CBS News’ Farhan Bokhari reports from Islamabad.

“I don’t think Pakistan will try to match India’s recent Agni missile because that needs a lot more in terms of resources,” one western defense official in Islamabad told Bokhari on condition of anonymity.

“The Pakistani missile now tested seems to have an improved ability to strike at its targets,” the official said. “It also has a more powerful engine, which means that it can strike at longer distances than Shaheen-1.”

CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said the international community isn’t focusing on Pakistan’s upping of the ante in missile testing with India.

“India’s focus is China, making it clear that the failure of the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency to rein in ballistic missile testing may be the onset of a new global arms race,” Falk said.

Pakistan and India have fought three major wars since they achieved independence from the British empire in 1947. Relations have warmed somewhat over the last year, especially with respect to trade, but the two still consider each other enemies and regularly conduct tests of weapons systems to display their military prowess.

India’s latest test, however, was conducted with an eye toward its eastern neighbor, China, rather than its western neighbor, Pakistan. The Agni-V gave India the capability of striking Beijing and Shanghai for the first time, and the government hailed the launch as a major boost to its efforts to counter China’s regional dominance and become an Asian power in its own right.

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