Russia Deploys 10
More Topol-M
Nuclear Missiles
MOSCOW - The Russian military deployed 10 new Topol-M nuclear missiles Friday, the second time in two years that it has put a contingent of the missiles on full combat readiness.
The Topol-M, which carries a single nuclear warhead, was designed to be the backbone of Russia's strategic forces. Many of the country's older nuclear weapons have outlived their service life or must be dismantled under international arms reduction agreements.
The new missiles were put on duty in the Saratov region, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, the location of the first 10 missiles deployed last year, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
The latest deployment came a day after Russian President Boris Yeltsin, on a visit to China, blasted President Clinton for criticizing Russia's military campaign in breakaway Chechnya. Yeltsin reminded Clinton that "Russia is a great power that possesses a nuclear arsenal."
Russia's Strategic Missile Forces chief, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, said Yeltsin had been well aware of the Topol-M deployment when he made his remarks, the Interfax news agency said.
The Topol-M is relatively small and can be transported on a mobile launch pad, making it hard to locate and take out in the first strike of a nuclear confrontation.
Meanwhile, Yakovlev also said that American plans to try to develop an effective anti-ballistic missile defense system would virtually mean "a return to the arms race," ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The United States wants to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to build missile defenses that would defend the country from possible missile attacks by rogue states such as North Korea.
Washington says an anti-missile system would not be able to counter the kind of massive nuclear attack Russia is capable of launching. But the Russians argue that a U.S. retreat from the ABM treaty would trigger an arms race.

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