December 17, 2007 / 2:03 PM / 10 years ago

Russia test-fires new intercontinental missile

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, part of a system that can outperform any anti-missile system likely to be deployed, according to the officer in charge of missile forces.

The missile was launched from the Tula nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in the Arctic, a statement from the Russian navy said. It hit a designated area in the Kura testing ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula on Russia’s Pacific coast.

“The launch was conducted from an underwater position as a part of training to test the readiness of the marine strategic nuclear forces,” the statement said.

A spokesman would not say what type of missile was tested. Itar-Tass news agency said the Tula carried Sineva missiles commissioned by a decree from President Vladimir Putin in July.

Missile tests have become regular occurrences by the armed forces in the past few years. They are viewed by the political and military leadership as evidence of a revival of military might.

The commander of Russia’s strategic rocket forces, speaking after the launch, said Russia could thwart any anti-missile system that could be put in place for years to come.

“The military hardware now on our weapons, and those that will appear in the next few years, will enable our missiles to outperform any anti-missile system, including future systems,” Col.-Gen Nikolai Solovtsov was quoted as telling journalists.

The United States plans to deploy a missile defense system in central Europe to defend against attacks by rogue states and it is not aimed at Russia, but Moscow says the system threatens its security and has promised counter-measures.

Solovtsov, quoted by Russian news agencies at a site outside Moscow, said new missile systems could be deployed in the coming years in Russia, based on the Topol-M system being developed for more than a decade.

He also said the proposed U.S. anti-missile systems, to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, could be viewed as legitimate targets by Moscow if circumstances warranted.

“We are obliged to take appropriate measures to ensure that Russia’s potential for nuclear deterrence is in no way devalued,” he told reporters.

“I cannot rule out that should such an attempt be undertaken and in the event of a decision by top military leaders, these anti-missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic could be selected as targets for our ... missiles.”

Reporting by Tatyana Ustinova; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Stephen Weeks

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