ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan has successfully test fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile for the second time, the military said.
The terrain-hugging Hatf VII Babur missile has a range of 500 kilometres (310 miles) and can carry all kinds of warheads, a senior military official told AFP.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf witnessed the launch and congratulated the scientists involved, a military statement said.
“The nation was proud of its scientists and engineers, who had once again demonstrated their ability to master rare technologies with ease and professionalism,” a military statement quoted Musharraf as saying.
“The strategic programme, which had come to symbolize the nation’s resolve for its security, will continue to go from strength to strength with credible minimum deterrence as the cornerstone,” Musharraf said.
Pakistan’s foreign office said it did not inform its nuclear-armed rival India about the launch.
Both countries, who conducted tit-for-tat test nuclear detonations in 1998 and have already fought three wars, routinely carry out tests of nuclear-capable missiles.
“We don’t have to inform them as we have an agreement which includes only ballistic missile tests about which the two countries inform each other,” Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told AFP.
“We have proposed to India to include cruise missile tests but they did not agree,” she said.
Pakistan again proposed to India that cruise missile tests should be included when the countries’ foreign secretaries met in New Delhi in January this year, she said.
“We have yet to hear from them,” she added.
A military statement said that “all phases of the planned trajectory were extremely successful and the missile impacted with pinpoint accuracy.”
The indigenously developed Babur — named after an ancient Mughal emperor — was tested for the first time in August 2005, it said.
The cruise missile would in future also be capable of being placed in submarines and on surface ships, the statement said.
“The Babur, which has near stealth capabilities, is a low flying, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability, pin-point accuracy and radar avoidance features,” the statement said.