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Russian Rocket Woes Undermining Confidence In Nuclear Arsenal

Baev noted that the current production scale of six-to-eight Topol-M missiles a year is about four times lower than what is necessary for replacing the old Soviet ICBMs still in service.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Apr 20, 2006
Russian policy makers have reacted with fury to a recent article in Foreign Affairs discussing the growing problems Russia has in maintaining its ICBM nuclear delivery systems The article, entitled "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy," by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, ran in the March issue of Foreign Affairs.

And it "exploded like a bomb in the Russia's higher political circles," analyst Pavel Baev wrote in Monday's edition of Eurasia Daily Monitor, which is published by the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

The article provoked reactions in the Moscow publications "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie on March 31 and in Vedomosti on March 22," Baev wrote.

"The argument in the article is hardly new: The quantitative decline and qualitative degradation of Russian strategic forces create a situation where they could be completely obliterated by a first, 'disarming' U.S. strike," Baev wrote.

"Whether this crucial threshold in the strategy of nuclear deterrence has already been crossed or will be in the near future is essentially an academic question, but the fact of steadily increasing U.S. superiority is beyond doubt."

Baev noted recent Russian reports that their new land-based Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile would be equipped with the same multiple warheads as the sea-launched Bulava ballistic missile. However, he continued, "That might indeed help in preserving the high total count of the warheads but would not resolve the accumulating problems with the delivery systems," he wrote.

Baev noted that the current production scale of six-to-eight Topol-M missiles a year is about four times lower than what is necessary for replacing the old Soviet ICBMs still in service. Also, the new Bulava still needs many more tests before it could be ready for deployment in the new generation of nuclear submarines, he wrote.

"That essentially means that for the next five years the naval leg of Russian nuclear triad will continue to rely on the SLBMs that are long past their expiration date," Baev wrote.

Russia prepares Topol-M missile regiment

Russia's first missile regiment equipped with mobile Topol-M ballistic missile systems will be put on combat duty this year, the missile's chief designer said April 13.

Yuri Solomonov, director and chief designer at the Institute of Heat Technology, said other countries would be not able to design such missiles for another 15 to 20 years, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Solomonov also said Topol-M could be deployed as a silo-based or mobile system. Russia has five missile regiments equipped with silo-based Topol-M missiles, RIA Novosti said.

Source: United Press International

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US Demands End To Russia-Iran Nuclear Cooperation
Moscow (AFP) Apr 20, 2006
The United States demanded Wednesday an end to Russia's cooperation with Iran in building the Islamic republic's first civilian nuclear power station and also suggested halting a sale of Russian missiles.

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