Pakistan tests nuclear-capable missile: army

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan on Saturday test-fired a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads, the military said.

The Shaheen II, or Hatf VI, missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,280 miles) was launched from an undisclosed location, military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

"This was the second test of the missile since February last year," he added. Shaheen is the longest range missile that Pakistan has produced.

"The launch was very successful. It hit the target with complete accuracy," Abbas said.

The test was conducted as part of technical improvements to verify Pakistan's land-based strategic missile systems, the military said in a statement.

Pakistan's missile arsenal includes short-range, medium and long-range missiles named after Muslim conquerors.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani witnessed the launch, Abbas added. It was the first missile test by the army since a new civilian government took power a month ago.

Gilani congratulated the scientists and engineers on achieving an important milestone in "Pakistan's quest for sustaining strategic balance in South Asia," the military statement said.

He told the gathering at the missile launch that Pakistan's strategy of credible minimum deterrence was a guarantee of peace in the region.

Gilani said the country's strategic programme will continue to be consolidated and further strengthened in line with the needs of national security.

South Asian rival Pakistan and India have routinely conducted missile tests since both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability in 1998.