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Russia is developing a new type of nuclear missile system
A senior US official said here on Wednesday that Washington is not worried about Russia's nuclear activities, saying "we are confident that Russia's plans are not threatening". Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is developing a new type of nuclear missile system which no other nuclear powers possess. News reports have speculated that Russia is developing a new generation of heavy nuclear missile capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing 4.4 ton. The current generation Topol-M missiles are limited to a 1.3-ton combat payload. Topol-Ms, which the Russia military have been equipped with since 1998, have a range of about 10,000 km. The US announced in 2001 that it was abandoning the 1972 ABM Treaty with Russia in order to develop a new missile defense shield. Russia has been seeking to upgrade its nuclear arsenal since then, informs Xinhuanet. According to the NYTimes, Mr. Putin announced in February that Russia had successfully tested a new nuclear-tipped missile during an exercise that also included two embarrassing missile misfires. At the time, he said the system would allow "deep maneuvering," a statement arms experts in Russia and abroad took to mean a warhead that could alter its course as it homed in on a target. A day after that test, Col. Gen. Yuri N. Baluyevsky, who this summer was promoted to the chief of the general staff, said the missile was a "hypersonic flying vehicle," though neither he nor any other officials have provided further details about the weapon or, more importantly, its viability. The missile is reportedly a variant of the Topol, a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile that is already in Russia's arsenal, but Russia's efforts are shrouded in secrecy. Although the purpose of maneuverability would be to evade a missile-defense system, Russia already has more than enough missiles to overwhelm the limited system the United States is constructing. In Washington, White House reaction to Mr. Putin's remarks was measured, with Scott McClellan, the presidential press secretary, telling reporters today that "this is not something that we look at as new.'' He said that President Bush and Mr. Putin, whom he characterized as "allies now in the global war on terrorism,'' had discussed the issue of modernization of Russia's military and that the nuclear element of the modernization was "something that we are well aware of.'' Pressed on whether Mr. Bush would be comfortable with changes that enabled the Russians to get around American missile defense systems, Mr. McClellan responded: "We have a very different relationship than we did during the Cold War, and we are working together to significantly reduce our nuclear arsenals.'' Mr. Putin's remarks, made almost in passing and not a part of his main address, did not appear to be timed to any particular event. However, he has recently sought to bolster Russia's image as a superpower
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