[FPSPACE] Missiles for everybody
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 18 08:11:22 EST 2004
Russia to deploy new type of nuclear missile
Peter Finn, Washington Post
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Moscow -- President Vladimir Putin told a conference of top military officials Wednesday that Russia is planning to deploy a nuclear missile of a kind that other nuclear powers are unlikely to develop.
Putin gave no other details, but over the last several months, Russian military officials have spoken about developing a ballistic missile that could penetrate any missile defense system, such as the one being put in place by the United States. It reportedly would have the maneuverability of a cruise missile after re-entering the atmosphere from space, helping it to evade interceptor rockets.
"We have not only conducted tests of the latest nuclear rocket systems," Putin said at a meeting in Moscow of the armed forces leadership, according to Russian news services. "I am sure that in the coming years, we will deploy them. ... Moreover, these will be things which do not exist and are unlikely to exist in other nuclear powers."
In his remarks -- which amounted to a broad overview of military strategy and budgets, but with a dash of boosterism -- Putin did not elaborate on the new systems.
The Russian military, however, is widely reported to have been trying to perfect land- and sea-based ballistic missiles with warheads that could elude a missile defense system like the one being developed by the United States. Russian officials have talked of shield-evading missiles since the 1980s, when the Reagan administration promoted its Strategic Defense Initiative anti- missile system.
In announcing a planned missile defense system in 2001, the Bush administration said it would be designed to protect the country from "rogue states" such as North Korea, not Russia's massive arsenal. Nonetheless, that announcement prompted a new round of statements from Russian officials that their country would develop missiles capable of penetrating such a shield.
Putin announced in February that Russia had successfully tested a new nuclear-tipped missile during an exercise that included two embarrassing missile misfires. At the time, he said the system would allow "deep maneuvering," a statement that arms experts in Russia and abroad took to mean a warhead that could alter its course as it homed in on a target.
A day after that test, Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, who was promoted to the chief of the general staff this summer, said the missile was a "hypersonic flying vehicle," though neither he nor any other officials have provided further details about the weapon or, more importantly, its viability.
The missile is reportedly a variant of the Topol, a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile that is already in Russia's arsenal, but Russia's efforts are shrouded in secrecy.
The Russian Tass news service said Putin may have been referring to a pending mobile version of the Topol-M, the only intercontinental missile developed by Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Earlier this month, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Russia expected to test the missile soon and that production might begin in 2005.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that Putin's remarks weren't news to the Bush administration and that President Bush and Putin had discussed the issue previously. He emphasized there are agreements in place to reduce the two countries' nuclear arsenals and noted Moscow is now a partner in the war on terrorism.
Putin's remarks were widely interpreted by analysts as a gesture toward the country's traditional Soviet-era establishment at a time when Russia's status as a nuclear superpower is waning.
"This is old stuff," said Dmitry Trenin, deputy head of the Moscow Carnegie Centre think tank. "He had to sound reassuring to the military and the nation at large, just after he signed away two and a half islands to the Chinese and offered concessions to the Japanese."
Trenin was referring to a deal done during Putin's recent state visit to Beijing over a disputed stretch of border with China near the eastern Siberian city of Khabaravosk, and to Putin's reaffirmation this week that Russia would be willing to hand back two of the four disputed islands called the Kuriles by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.
Some analysts questioned whether the projected 2005 defense budget is sufficient to finance an upgrading of Russia's nuclear forces. The army and security agencies, including the police, are projected to receive about $32 billion, or 30.5 percent of the federal budget.
Powell: Iran's working on nuclear missiles
Santiago, Chile, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says there is evidence Iran is developing a missile system to deliver nuclear warheads, the Washington Post reports.
"I have seen some information that would suggest that they have been actively working on delivery systems ... You don't have a weapon until you put it in something that can deliver a weapon," Powell told reporters traveling with him to Chile for an Asia-Pacific economic summit.
Iran has long been known to have a missile program, while denying it was seeking a nuclear bomb.
"There is no doubt in my mind ... they have been interested in a nuclear weapon that has utility, meaning that it is something they would be able to deliver, not just something that sits there," Powell said.
Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Powell's remarks indicate Iran was trying to master the difficult technology of reducing the size of a nuclear warhead to fit on a ballistic missile.
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