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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia to double ICBM launches after 2009 - commander

RIA Novosti

17/12/2007 18:25 VLASIKHA (Moscow Region), December 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will double its test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles after 2009, the Strategic Missiles Forces (SMF) commander said on Monday.

"The number of launches will almost double after 2009 or 2010," Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov told a news conference.

He said Russia is putting an average of three mobile and three or four fixed-site missile launching systems into operation every year.

He said new missile systems to be adopted soon by the SMF would enable the force to infiltrate any defenses, even those that have not been established yet, but did not specify the systems.

The general said that if U.S. missile defense elements are deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces could aim long-range missiles at these sites.

"We have to take appropriate measures to prevent the weakening of Russia's nuclear deterrence under any circumstances. And I do not rule out that... some intercontinental ballistic missiles could be aimed at these Polish and Czech facilities," Gen. Solovtsov told journalists.

Russia will operate 48 fixed-site Topol-M (NATO reporting name SS-27) ballistic missiles by the start of 2008, an SMF spokesman said.

The SMF said previously that the system will be equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, adding the new system will help penetrate missile defenses more effectively.

As of December 2006, Russia's SMF operated 44 silo-based and three mobile Topol-M missile systems.

Col. Alexander Vovk also said Russia will conduct 11 launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2008.

"A total of 11 combat training and test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles are planned to be conducted next year," he said.

He said the adoption of a new ICBM, RS-24, would greatly strengthen the SMF's strike capability and Russia's nuclear deterrent, as well as that of its allies until the mid-21st century.

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