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    PAKISTAN'S ARMED FORCES GET NEW SHAHEEN-3 MISSILE

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    ISLAMABAD, February 21 (RIA Novosti correspondent Vladimir Shreter) - At a special ceremony on Saturday, Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf handed over a new hard-fuel short-range missile complex Shaheen-3 to the National Army Strategic Command, the country's state TV channel reports.

    The missile has been undergoing tests since 2002.

    Shaheen-3 has a range of 280 kilometers and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

    The Pakistani President has repeatedly said that Pakistan does not intend to curtail or reduce its rocket and nuclear development programs, stressing that the latter are allegedly of "purely defensive nature." According to him, the country is going to carry out trial launches of a new ballistic missile with a range of up to 2,000 km in the next two weeks. General Musharraf added that Pakistan is not trying "to catch up with India" which is currently developing the Agni-3 ballistic missile boasting a range of 3,500 km and capable of reaching most provinces of China as well as many other Asian countries, including those in the Persian Gulf.

    According to the Pakistani President, Islamabad simply does not need offensive intercontinental ballistic missiles of such a long range.

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