Saturday, December 24, 2005

Russia deploys new nuclear missiles

THE chief of Russia's strategic forces attended the deployment of a new set of state-of-the art intercontinental ballistic missiles today, boasting of their capability to penetrate any prospective missile defence, news reports said.

THE chief of Russia's strategic forces attended the deployment of a new set of state-of-the art intercontinental ballistic missiles today, boasting of their capability to penetrate any prospective missile defence, news reports said.

Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, took part in a ceremony that marked the commissioning of the latest set of Topol-M missiles at a missile base in Tatishchevo in the Volga River's Saratov region.

Solovtsov said the new missile "is capable of penetrating any missile defence system", the RIA Novosti and Interfax news agencies reported.

Russian officials have called prospective US missile defences destabilising and boasted repeatedly that Russia's new missiles could pierce any nation's missile shield.

The Russian military commissioned the first group of Topol-Ms in December 1998, but the deployment has proceeded slower than planned because of a shortage of funds, and Soviet-built ballistic missiles have remained the backbone of the nation's nuclear forces.

The Topol-M missiles, capable of hitting targets more than 10,000 kilometers away, have so far been deployed in silos. The mobile version, mounted on a heavy off-road vehicle, is to enter combat service next year, Solovtsov said.

Russian media reports have said the Topol-M lifts off faster than its predecessors and manoeuvres in a way that makes it more difficult to spot and intercept. It is also reportedly capable of blasting off even after a nuclear explosion close to its silo.

The deployed Topol-Ms have been fitted with single nuclear warheads, but officials have considered plans to equip each missile with three individually targeted warheads.

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