Russia pledges to copy US nuclear missile deployments
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Kremlin would not deploy new missiles as long as the US did the same in Europe and Asia.
“We still stick to that,” Shoigu told the Russian media. “Unless there are such systems in Europe, we won’t do anything there.”
Last month both the US and Russia ditched the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that has limited a class of land-based missiles since 1988.
The agreement banned land-based missiles with a range of between 500-5,500km, inhibiting the ability of both sides to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
Nato has accused Russia of flouting its terms while the growing might of China is an added complication.
President Vladimir Putin this month said Russia would respond in kind if Washington developed new missiles.
Russia said it flew two nuclear-capable bombers to its far northeast near the border with Alaska, near US radar and missile-launch sites.
The Tupolev TU-160s, Cold War-era supersonic bombers, are capable of carrying up to 12 short-range nuclear missiles for a 12,000km without refuelling.
Donald Trump said earlier this month that he would like to establish a new agreement with Russia that would reduce all nuclear forces and possibly include China.
An explosion during a missile test on Russia’s White Sea on August 8 that the authorities said killed seven nuclear scientists and caused radiation levels to spike has drawn new attention to Russia’s new weapons designed to deliver long-range nuclear strikes.
The missile exploded lifting off from an offshore research platform near Nyonoksa.
Moscow said it was testing a “liquid fuel rocket” and Rosatom, the state-run nuclear energy agency, adding that it was working on an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system”.
International observers now say it might have been a 9M730 Burevestnik “Petrel” (a seabird) nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The missile would reportedly be powered by a tiny nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly almost indefinitely at high speeds.
The pursuit of new weapons like the Burevestnik is thought to branch from Russian fears that US anti-ballistic missiles could knock out Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.
Picture credit: Wikimedia