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Mon, May 12, 2003

India Talks Peace, Tests Missile

Short-Range Astra Missile Fired For Second Time In Three Days

While continuing to talk peace with its neighbor, Pakistan, India Sunday test-fired a second Astra air-to-air missile - a product of homegrown Indian technology.

The test came just one day after US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage left New Delhi after meeting with top government officials. Those talks, while officially deemed "successful," did not result in the reduction of sanctions against India for developing an arsenal clearly aimed at Pakistan. The two countries have already fought two wars. Both now have nuclear weapons. But, while the United States considers Pakistan a strong ally in the war against terror, India remains under sanctions.

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The Astra missile reportedly has a range of between 15 and 25 miles. It was tested at India's Chandipur-at-sea range in the southeastern part of the country. Clearly, the tests won't help Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee win any support for the lifting of sanctions, which were imposed after his country tested a nuclear device in 1998.

"In our extended neighborhood, we can see many examples of double standards in this," he said during a speech to mark National Technology Day. "Countries guilty of missile and nuclear proliferation have not attracted sanctions. Some," he said, in a blatant reference to Pakistan, "even continue to receive liberal economic assistance." Vajpayee promised India will continue developing homegrown weapons and dual-use technology until "a more equitable" international system of arms control is put into place.

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