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Russia Tests New ICBM

Posted May. 31, 2007 03:57,   


Russia announced on May 29 that it tested a new multiple-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could overcome the U.S.-led missile defense systems.

Concerns have arisen that the show of military strength of Russia, which has opposed the U.S. plan to emplace a missile shield in Eastern Europe, might be the beginning of military tensions and another arms race between the U.S. and Russia.

Missile “capable of penetrating any anti-missile defense system”-

The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement that their new ICBM, the RS-24, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk Space Center in northwest Russia and hit its target 5,500km away at Kura on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Pacific. According to the statement, Russia also successfully tested an upgraded and more accurate version of the Iskander-M cruise missile from southern Astrakhan.

Russia`s first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, said the missiles were capable of destroying enemy systems and added, "As of today Russia has new missiles that are capable of overcoming any existing or future missile defense systems. In terms of defense and security, Russia can look calmly to the country`s future."

The Russian Defense Ministry said the new RS-24 missile was capable of carrying as many as ten independent warheads, traveling inter-continentally to hit targets thousands of miles away, and using sophisticated navigation systems which allow the warheads to lock on to different targets, making it almost impossible to shoot down.

Alexander Pikayev, a senior researcher at the Moscow-based Institute for World Economy and International Relations, said, “Russia has strived to overcome U.S. missile defense systems and the missile test seems to be a way toward a solution.” The researcher noticed that this test would enable Russia to have potential nuclear deterrence on the ground, water, and air despite a missile shield.

The Financial Times reported that the upgraded Iskander - if stationed in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania - could knock out elements of the U.S. missile defense system planned for Poland.

- Threatening a new cold war-style arms race?

Russia has strongly opposed the U.S. plan to site a missile shield in Eastern Europe and has said that it poses a direct threat to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 26 announced a "moratorium" on CFE obligations after commenting on the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems. He took the hard-line that it is possible for the nation to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and attack the missile defense systems deployed in Europe.

The missile shows that Russia’s opposition so far was not just rhetoric. President Putin already warned on May 29, “We consider it (U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe) harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a `powder keg` and fill it with new weapons.”

The Guardian, a British daily, reported in its 30th issue, “Russia yesterday threatened a new cold war-style arms race with the United States” and “the row has contributed to the worst relations between Russia and the west in the past 20 years.”

Russia’s strong reaction has raised tensions for the U.S. The White House said, “Our new missile defense system in Eastern Europe is not aimed at Russia and we are willing to cooperate with Russia.”

The U.S. tested its defense system for the second time on May 25 but it didn’t have a chance to launch its interceptor missile because a target missile failed. Accordingly, questions have been raised on the effectiveness of U.S. missile defense systems within the country.