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Pakistan Prepares Missile Test, say News Reports - 2002-10-07

Pakistan is preparing for another test of its medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Newspaper reports in Pakistan say the missile test will take place Tuesday. The rocket is thought to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead deep into Indian territory. Government officials neither confirm nor deny the report.

"Pakistan conducts missile tests as and when there is a requirement of a technical nature to test those," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan. "I can not give you the exact time about those tests. Whenever the technical departments consider that there is a need for testing, the testing is done."

Pakistan tested a medium-range Shaheen missile on Friday. Hours later, neighboring India test-fired a surface-to-air missile.

According to Pakistani media reports, Tuesday's test will involve another missile in the Shaheen series. This one has a range of 800 kilometers.

Both India and Pakistan came under strong criticism from the world community for last week's missile tests. The United States said that such tests could lead to a nuclear missile and arms race in South Asia.

The missile tests come at time when border tensions remain high between India and Pakistan. The latest military standoff over the disputed territory of Kashmir brought the two countries close to a fourth war earlier this year. Indian and Pakistan leaders have ignored repeated calls to de-escalate the situation and settle the Kashmir conflict through talks.