Russia test-launches new long-range missile

RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting targets within range of 5,500 kilometers.

Putin 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Putin 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Russia on Tuesday test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple independent warheads, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces said. The missile, called the RS-24 and fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch in northwestern Russia, and its test warhead, landed on target some 5,500 kilometers away on the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, a statement from the forces said. The new missile is seen as eventually replacing the aging RS-18s and RS-20s that are the backbone of the country's missile forces, the statement said. Those missiles are known in the West as the SS-19 Stiletto and the SS-18 Satan. The statement said the RS-24 conforms with terms laid down in the START-I treaty and the 2002 Moscow Treaty, which calls for reductions in each country's nuclear arsenal to 1,700-2,000 warheads. The RS-24 "strengthens the capability of the attack groups of the Strategic Missile Forces by surmounting anti-missile defense systems, at the same time strengthening the potential for nuclear deterrence," the statement said. The statement did not specify how many warheads the missile can carry. Alexander Golts, a respected military analyst with the Yezhenedelny Zhurnal online publication, expressed surprise at the announcement. "It seems to be a brand new missile. It's either a decoy or something that has been developed in complete secrecy," he told The Associated Press. The test comes at a time of increased tension between Russia and the West over missiles and other weapons issues. Russia adamantly opposes USefforts to deploy elements of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The United States says the system is aimed at blocking possible attacks by countries such as North Korea and Iran, but Russia says the system would destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe. "We consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg," President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, when asked at a news conference with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates about the controversy. Russia, meanwhile, called Monday for an emergency conference next month on a key Soviet-era arms control treaty that has been a source of increasing friction between Moscow and NATO.