- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan test-fired its first cruise missile early yesterday without warning archrival India despite a new treaty requiring notification of tests involving missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, officials said.

The Foreign Ministry said the missile-notification agreement formalized by the two nuclear-armed nations during the weekend did not cover cruise missiles.

India’s Foreign Ministry said it had no comment on the test. Pakistani Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed said the peace process should still move ahead.

The test was carried out on President Pervez Musharraf’s 62nd birthday, but an army spokesman said that was a coincidence. The timing was determined more by the readiness of scientists, the weather and the celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day, which falls on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said.

The notification pact is part of a confidence-building process being pursued by the two South Asian neighbors that have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. They also agreed during the weekend to set up a hot line next month to help prevent accidental nuclear conflict.

The Babur cruise missile, which also can carry a conventional warhead, has a range of 310 miles and was fired from an undisclosed site. “By the grace of Allah, all design parameters for the flight were validated,” the military said.

Cruise missiles are typically low-flying guided missiles that use jet propulsion. The military said the Babur can hit a target with “pinpoint accuracy” and be fired from surface warships, submarines and fighter jets.

“The technology enables the missile to avoid radar detection and penetrate undetected through any hostile defensive system,” it said.

Gen. Sultan said Pakistan had joined the few countries “that can design and make cruise missiles.”

India’s military also has a cruise missile, the supersonic Brahmos.

Gen. Musharraf praised the scientists and engineers involved in the Babur project “and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue to meet emerging challenges and geo-strategic developments in its neighborhood,” the army said.

Pakistan and India often carry out tit-for-tat missile tests capable of reaching deep inside each other’s territory. Both conducted nuclear test explosions in 1998.

In March, Pakistan successfully test-fired its longest-range nuclear-capable missile, the Shaheen II, which can reach 1,250 miles.

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