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Pakistan conducted on Friday a successful test launch of a medium-range
Pakistan conducted on Friday a successful test launch of a medium-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, national media said, citing military sources.

The high-precision Shaheen-1 missile has a range of up to 700 kilometers (about 440 miles). It is a railroad platform-based mobile variant of the Pakistani Hatf-IV ballistic missile.

The launch, under a state program set up in 2005, was the first ballistic missile test since the beginning of this year.

Last year, Pakistan test-fired a new version of its long-range nuclear-capable missile, the Shaheen II (Hatf VI), which has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,245 miles), and the short-range Abdali (Hatf II) missile with a range of 180 kilometers (112 miles).

Following the successful test of the missile, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who recently replaced President Pervez Musharraf as the country's top military commander, said that the country was not threatening other states by modernizing its nuclear arsenal.

"Pakistan's nuclear capability is solely for the purpose of deterring all types of aggression," Kayani said.

He also dismissed comments by Western media that the country's nuclear weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists due to the current volatile political situation in Pakistan.

"The Pakistani armed forces are a highly professional, motivated and well-trained force and are capable of safeguarding and securing nuclear assets against all categories of threat," the army chief said.

According to some sources, the Shaheen series of solid-propellant missiles are domestically- improved versions of imports from China, and produced by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which is also responsible for Pakistan's plutonium bomb program.

Pakistan and its longstanding rival, India, which have fought three wars in the past half-century, have routinely carried out tit-for-tat missile tests. In 1998, they both conducted underground nuclear tests.

Two of the wars fought between India and Pakistan have been over Kashmir, the mountainous region disputed by the two neighbors since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.


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