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India Tests Missile Amid Tensions With Pakistan
NEW DELHI - India successfully tested a supersonic cruise missile Tuesday in a remote desert close to the Pakistan border, officials said, amid continuing tensions with its nuclear-armed rival over the November attacks in Mumbai.
Indian officials say the launch of the Brahmos was only part of ongoing reliability tests, but some analysts say the timing was sensitive and could alarm Pakistan.
"The test was successful," a defense ministry spokesman said, without giving details.
The Brahmos, which can travel at up to 2.8 times the speed of sound and has a range of 290 km (180 miles), was tested at Pokhran, a desert town along India-Pakistan border and also the site of India's 1998 nuclear tests.
Analysts say that given the acrimonious history of India-Pakistan relations, both sides are acutely aware of the signaling that goes with such military tests.
The missile can be fitted with both conventional and nuclear warheads.
"A missile test has a certain interpretative potential by the other side," said C. Uday Bhaskar, a New Delhi-based strategic analyst. "There is symbolism."
India has blamed Pakistan militants for the Mumbai attacks that killed 179 people and pressed Islamabad for action. A war of words has ratcheted up tensions, but both sides have said a war was no solution.
The Brahmos, named after India's Brahmaputra river and Russia's Moscow river, was developed by a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia.
India, which has the world's fourth-largest military, plans to fit the missile in several ships, officials said.
(Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)