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Russia fires ICBM, claims can penetrate missile shield

MOSCOW (BNS): In a serious new addition to the US-Russian standoff, Russia on Thursday test-fired the Topol strategic missile, which it said could penetrate the American ballistic missile shield.

The RS-12M (SS-25 Sickle) ICBM, which was test fired from the Plesetsk space center at 14:36 Moscow time (10:36 GMT) on Thursday, hit a specified target on the Kamchatka peninsula, said Strategic Missile Forces spokesman Col. Alexander Vovk said in Moscow.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti said that Topol ICBM was tested to look at the capabilities of a new warhead that had the potential to penetrate strong missile defenses. The missile covered a distance of about 6,000 kilometers (over 3,700 miles) before hitting the target. It was only last year that Russia extended the life of this missile for another 21 years. The RS-12M Topol has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and has the capability to carry a single 550-kiloton nuclear warhead. On December 8, 2007, the missile was last tested.

Speaking to RIA Novosti, Col Vovk said that the experimental warhead hit the target with high precision, demonstrating its capability to deliver pinpoint strikes on well-defended targets.

Reiterating that Topol ICBM was the core component of the country's strategic ballistic missiles, Col Vovk said that its recent performance data would be used to help in building future mobile ballistic missile units.

To counter the threat posed by the US missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia has been increasing the capabilities of its ballistic missiles. Asymmetrical measures are the only answer to the deployment of missile-defense systems, Col Vovk said. According to Col Vovk some of these measures include enhanced "stealth" capability, a variability of flight trajectory and the use of warheads capable of penetrating any missile shield.

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