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Russia Alerted U.S. to ICBM Launch

by Brendan McGarry on March 4, 2014

Topol_RS-12M

Russia’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile was expected and in compliance with a bilateral arms-reduction treaty, a U.S. official said.

The country, which is facing international sanctions for deploying troops to Ukraine’s Crimea region amid political unrest, on Tuesday fired a RS-12M Topol missile from the Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea in the Astrakhan region to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan, according to news reports.

Russia notified the U.S. of the scheduled launch in advance and in accordance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, according to Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

“This was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM,” she said in a statement distributed by the Pentagon to media outlets, including Military​.com. “As required under the New START Treaty, Russia provided advance notification of this launch to the United States.

“Such advance notifications are intended to provide transparency, confidence, and predictability and to help both sides avoid misunderstandings,” she added. “Russia and the United States routinely flight test their ICBMs and SLBMs,” referring to submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The RS-12M is a newer version of the RT-2PM, known by its NATO designation as SS-25 Sickle. Russia in 2000 was estimated to have 288 of the latter, each of which can carry a nuclear warhead with a yield of 550 kilotons, according to research by the Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

The three-stage, vehicle-mounted rocket measures about 70 feet long and 6 feet wide, roughly the size of a U.S.-made Minuteman ICBM. While the RT-2PM entered service in the 1985, the RS-12M began flights in 1998 — and is scheduled to be in use for another decade, according to a report on the state-owned RT.

The goal of the latest flight “was to test an advanced battle equipment for the intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told RIA Novosti, according to the report.

Russia in 2012 conducted a similar test of the RS-12M.

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