The New Arms Race Russia Plans ICBM to Counter US Missile Shield

The Russian navy plans on producing a new submarine-based missile system in 2008. It is part of a big increase in the country's spending on research, development and procurement of weaponry, prompting fears of a new cold war.


Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country can produce missiles capable of piercing any defenses.
REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country can produce missiles capable of piercing any defenses.

The Russian navy plans on producing a new submarine-based missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads in 2008 as part of a big increase in the country's spending on research, development and procurement of weaponry.

The navy will commission the new missile system, the planned core of a seaborne nuclear arsenal in the coming years, even though three consecutive test launches of the missile last year ended in failure. But a successful test in June has prompted officials to approve the start of production of the missile's components, according to comments made Sunday by Admiral Vladimir Masorin and reported by Russian media.

"We have no doubt that the testing of the Bulava-M missile system will be completed successfully," Masorin said, according to the Interfax news agency. "We have no other alternatives. We hope that the missile will be adopted by the Navy in 2008."

The navy is planning two more test launches this year and will complete its testing program in 2008.

There may be "some mishaps during the forthcoming launches, but that is what tests are for," Masorin was quoted as saying on the Web site of state broadcaster Perviy Kanal. He said that "huge labor, intellectual and financial resources" had been invested in the development of the system.

Defense Spending Surge

The missiles are part of significant beefing up of Russia's weapons systems, with defense expenditures rising by about 30 percent and expected to top $11.5 billion (€8.38 billion) this year, according to the Financial Times.

The Bulava system will be a flagship project that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said can pierce any missile shield. The decision to go ahead with production despite several test failures comes in the wake of a US-Russia spat over American plans to base 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar installations in the Czech Republic. Russia is staunchly opposed to the US plan and has not been swayed by US President George W. Bush's assertions that the defense system is aimed a preventing missiles from rogue states such as Iran from reaching Europe.

While Putin has championed the Bulava, analysts have said there are conflicting reports of the latest test of the missile and that it is unpopular among some in the navy. Officials said in June that a test missile fired from a submarine in the White Sea hit its target 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles) away on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Pacific opposite Alaska.

"They are jumping the gun," Moscow-based military expert Pavel Felgenhauer told the Financial Times. "It would be irresponsible to begin producing the Bulava now. Even if the test was successful we would need at least 10 more successful tests before beginning serial production."

The Bulava missile is considered a key component in the country's strategic forces, according to Russian media reports, and is designed to carry six individually targeted nuclear warheads. It was developed for Russia's new generation of nuclear submarines, the first of which, the Yuri Dolgoruky, was launched in April after long delays.

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