Pakistan Tests First Cruise Missile

Pakistan has successfully tested its first ground-fired cruise missile, capable of carrying nuclear and conventional weapons.

Military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan says the cruise missile was fired early Thursday, but he did not disclose the launch site. He says the rocket, called Babur, flies parallel to the ground, and can avoid radar detection.
"It is a cruise missile. It can carry a nuclear and conventional warhead, both until five-hundred kilometers of range."

General Sultan says the cruise missile is not covered by a new agreement with India to provide advance notice of missile tests.

"Advanced warning is to be given in case of the ballistic missile. Since it is not a ballistic missile and it is cruise missile, hence this advance warning was not a necessity."

The missile test agreement between India and Pakistan was finalized in New Delhi last week, but has yet to be signed. The two South Asian nations have fought three wars, and the missile agreement is part of efforts aimed at reducing border tensions and the risk of an accidental conflict.

In March, Pakistan successfully test fired its longest-range nuclear-capable missile, the Shaheen II, with a reach of two-thousand kilometers.

India and Pakistan both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Relations between the two countries remain tense, mainly because of their dispute over control of the Himalayan region of Kashmir. There are fears another conflict could lead to a nuclear exchange in the region.

Under pressure from the international community, India and Pakistan are engaged in a comprehensive peace dialogue, aimed at reducing tensions and settling all outstanding issues, including the conflict over Kashmir.