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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Topol Missiles Converted to Space Rockets

Moscow NTV 23 Jun 94

[Correspondents Aleksandr Gerasimov and Nikolay Federov report from the Plesetsk test ground]

[Gerasimov] Just like everything else in the world, strategic missiles are getting old as well. The most modern of them -- the Topols -- have been given 15 years of life by their constructors, after which they will be scrapped. It is unlikely that these missiles will come under the treaty on cutting offensive weapons. Today, Russia has no money to create new nuclear systems.

Scientists at the Kompleks scientific-technical center, which created the SS-25, and now in financial crisis like the majority of their colleagues in the defense industry, have decided to earn money with the elderly missiles. The Topols that have been taken out of active service are being purchased with credits from the Defense Ministry, and START-II space rockets will be built, based on these missiles.

The Plesetsk cosmodrome has the chance to become a cosmodrome twice over. Previously, all space work was carried out by officers in the military-space forces. Taking part in the START-II program are workers from the Plesetsk test ground and a structural unit in the Strategic Missile Troops. The departmental division of the two sections of the Defense ministry barely allows them to unite their space efforts. In the meantime, such an unnaturally long rocket can carry cargoes weighing up to 1.5 tonnes into space from unprepared launch sites, and is capable of working anywhere on the planet. So we have learned that a project is being developed to launch a South African satellite from the territory of the Republic of South Africa. However, in order to enter the market with new launch vehicles, it is necessary to confirm its reliability. The developers are counting on the reliability of the SS-25 base rocket, which was last launched on Wednesday [22 June].

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