MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – The US missile defense system is no match for the new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that Russia tested this week, a senior Russian official said Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, hailed Thursday’s tests as a success and dubbed the new ICBM a “missile defense killer.”
“Neither current nor future American missile defense systems will be able to prevent that missile from hitting a target dead on,” he said, during an event organized by the ruling United Russia party.
The Russian Defense Ministry was more modest in its appraisal of the test, carried out by the Strategic Missile Forces at the Kapustin Yar testing site, between Volgograd and Astrakhan, on Thursday.
“The test launch was a success as the [simulated] warhead hit a designated target within the set time frame,” said a Defense Ministry statement issued Thursday.
The US missile defense system in Europe, which NATO and the US say is aimed at countering threats from North Korea and Iran, has been a particular source of friction in US-Russian relations for a number of years.
Russia and NATO formally agreed to cooperate over the European missile defense system at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, but talks foundered, in part over Russian demands for legal guarantees that the system would not target its strategic nuclear deterrent.
In mid-March, the US announced that it was modifying its planned missile defense deployment to Poland, dropping plans to station SM-3 IIB interceptors in the country by 2022.
Russian officials responded by saying that this did nothing to allay their concerns over US missile defense in Eastern Europe, and reiterated their demand for legally binding agreements guaranteeing that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces would not be targeted.
Although analysts were quick to interpret the US change in plan as a concession to Russia, possibly intended to pave the way for further bilateral talks on nuclear arms reduction, US officials repeatedly refuted this suggestion.
Speaking after a bilateral meeting with the Polish foreign minister on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the United States’ continued commitment to that element of the missile defense system.
“We are on track to deploy a missile defense site in Poland by 2018 as part of NATO’s modernized approach to our security,” Kerry said.
Updated to include details from Kerry's comments on Monday, adding background/context on missile defense as an issue in Russia-US relations