MOSCOW REGION, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's strategic missile forces will equip the Topol-M missile system with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, the commander said Monday.
Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said the new system will help penetrate missile defenses more effectively. His statement comes against the background of growing tensions between Moscow and the West regarding plans by the United States to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Central Europe.
Washington has insisted that placing air shield components in Poland and the Czech Republic was aimed against possible nuclear strikes from rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, whose controversial nuclear programs have caused international concerns. But Moscow, already unnerved by NATO expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has condemned the plans as a threat to national security and a destabilizing factor for Europe.
Solovtsov said the Strategic Missile Forces would consider the new threats in their deployment plans. "If the U.S. proceeds with the air shield expansion plans, despite serious opposition from people in Europe, the Strategic Missile Forces will manage to take adequate measures to counter threats that may face Russia," the commander said.
He said the forces will complete the deployment of silo-based Topol-M systems in the Saratov Region in southern Russia and mobile systems in the Ivanovo Region in central Russia in 2010.
The forces' press service said silo-based systems on duty would total 48 by late 2007. As of December 2006, the Strategic Missile Forces operated 44 silo-based and three mobile systems.
Solovtsov also said that new kinds of equipment were being developed for mobile systems and that 12 test-launches would be conducted from different ballistic systems in 2007.
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