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THE surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ababeel, with a maximum range of 2,200km, being tested on Tuesday.—APP
THE surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ababeel, with a maximum range of 2,200km, being tested on Tuesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday successfully tested a nuclear capable, medium range missile equipped with ‘multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles’ (MIRVs).

“First successful flight test of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ababeel, which has a maximum range of 2,200 kilometres, was conducted. The missile is capable of delivering multiple warheads, using MIRV technology,” the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The MIRV technology enables a missile to deliver multiple warheads.

“Ababeel is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and has the capability to engage multiple targets with high precision, defeating the enemy’s hostile radars,” the statement said.

With the successful test, Pakistan has joined the elite club of nuclear countries that have MIRV capabilities. Pakistan will be the seventh country to have this technology. Other countries in this league are Britain, France, Russia, the United States, China and India. China and India achieved this capability over the past couple of years.

The development further confirms the big strides that Pakistan has made towards mastering warhead miniaturisation.

Pakistan’s rationale for attaining the MIRV technology is to defeat Indian ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield.

“Development of Ababeel weapon system is aimed at ensuring survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in the growing regional BMD environment. This will further reinforce deterrence,” the ISPR said.

MIRVing is a double-edged sword. While it will enhance strategic stability by allowing Pakistan to confidently evade BMDs at longer distances in addition to improving the survivability of nuclear forces, MIRVs at the same time become choice targets for a first-strike by the enemy.

MIRVing also implies that Pakistan is going to invest more in production of warheads and fissile materials, which will increase the size of nuclear arsenal.

Published in Dawn January 25th, 2017