The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Rus­sia will test launch a con­tro­ver­sial mis­sile over the next sev­eral weeks that U.S. of­fi­cials say is rais­ing new con­cerns about Moscow’s grow­ing strate­gic nu­clear arse­nal and Rus­sia’s po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of arms treaties.

The RS-26 mis­sile is ex­pected to be de­ployed with mul­ti­ple su­per­sonic, ma­neu­ver­ing war­heads de­signed to de­feat U.S. mis­sile de­fenses in Europe, U.S. of­fi­cials told In­side the Ring.

A House de­fense aide said the new mis­sile ap­pears to vi­o­late the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-range Nu­clear Forces (INF) Treaty, based on re­cent tests and Rus­sian state­ments that it is de­signed to thwart U.S. de­fenses. The treaty bans mis­siles with ranges of be­tween 310 and 3,400 miles.

“The Rus­sians are ad­ver­tis­ing this as a sys­tem ca­pa­ble of de­feat­ing U.S. mis­sile de­fenses in Europe,” the aide said. “At the same time, the State Depart­ment is ac­cept­ing Rus­sia’s claim that this is an ICBM and doesn’t vi­o­late INF. It can’t be both.”

The Air Force Na­tional Space and Mis­sile In­tel­li­gence Center re­ported re­cently that Rus­sia’s June 6 test of an RS-26 was a test-fir­ing of an in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile dis­guised as an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (ICBM).

Rus­sian of­fi­cials have de­nied that the RS-26 vi­o­lates the INF Treaty, claim­ing it has a range greater than the treaty thresh­old of 3,410 miles.

How­ever, Moscow of­fi­cials in re­cent months have said the INF Treaty must be al­tered or scrapped to bal­ance China’s grow­ing arse­nal of in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles. The Rus­sians also have been quoted in state-con­trolled press re­ports as say­ing the new mis­sile will be used to de­feat and de­stroy U.S. and NATO mis­sile de­fenses in Europe.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is de­ploy­ing land- and sea-based de­fenses in and around Europe to counter Ira­nian lon­grange mis­siles.

Of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with in­tel­li­gence re­ports said the next test-fir­ing of the RS-26 is ex­pected in De­cem­ber.

In June, Rus­sian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Ro­gozin de­scribed it as a “mis­sile de­fense killer” af­ter a suc­cess­ful test flight with dummy war­heads.

The new mis­sile will be equipped with three mul­ti­ple in­de­pen­dently-tar­getable re-en­try ve­hi­cles, or MIRVs. What is new is that the war­heads are su­per-high-speed ve­hi­cles ca­pa­ble of ma­neu­ver­ing from mis­sile in­ter­cep­tors. The ma­neu­ver­ing war­heads are con­sid­ered ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy that will in­crease the pre­ci­sion tar­get­ing of the mis­sile sys­tem.

The mis­sile also re­port­edly will be equipped with a high-per­for­mance fuel that boosts ac­cel­er­a­tion shortly af­ter launch, a fea­ture use­ful for avoid­ing an­timis­sile in­ter­cep­tors.

The U.S. of­fi­cials com­mented on the mis­sile de­vel­op­ment af­ter Rus­sia’s RIA Novosti news agency re­ported Oct. 3 that the next RS-26 test will be con­ducted be­fore the end of the year from the Kapustin Yar test range.

The new mis­sile is rais­ing ques­tions un­der the 2010 New Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (START). The treaty does not pro­hibit mod­ern­iz­ing strate­gic weapons but al­lows each side “to ques­tion” whether a new type of strate­gic arm is be­ing de­vel­oped.

A Pen­tagon spokesman could not be reached for com­ment.

The RS-26 will add to Rus­sia’s for­mi­da­ble and grow­ing arse­nal, which in­cludes SS-27 and SS-29 road-mo­bile, solid-fuel mis­siles; a new sub­ma­rine-launched nu­clear mis­sile called Bulava; and plans for a new silo-based ICBM. Rus­sia also an­nounced plans to build rail-mo­bile ICBMs that were de­ployed dur­ing the Soviet-era and later dis­man­tled.

Un­der the 2010 U.S.-Rus­sia New START, both coun­tries are to re­duce de­ployed strate­gic war­heads to 1,550. The treaty, how­ever, does not pro­hibit Rus­sia’s de­vel­op­ment and de­ploy­ment of new strate­gic mis­sile sys­tems and weapons.

The strate­gic nu­clear buildup is Moscow’s re­sponse to U.S. mis­sile de­fenses, which Rus­sia op­poses as threat­en­ing its strate­gic nu­clear forces.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has said U.S. mis­sile de­fenses would not be used against Rus­sian or Chi­nese nu­clear mis­siles, al­though both na­tions have re­jected the U.S. claims.

Rus­sian gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment doc­u­ments pro­vided the first of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion of the RS-26 on Sept. 23 when dis­cussing insurance li­a­bil­ity for re­lated to test launches, Rus­sia’s Ve­do­mosti news out­let re­ported Oct. 1.

A Rus­sian de­fense of­fi­cial told In­ter­fax this week that the RS-26 “is fit­ted with ad­vanced war­heads that travel at su­per­sonic speeds and are able to per­form al­ti­tude and course ma­neu­vers.” a satel­lite that cap­tured another satel­lite with a ro­botic arm.

In re­sponse, PLA Daily, news­pa­per of the Chi­nese mil­i­tary, re­ported Oct. 11 that NASA’s block­ing of Chi­nese sci­en­tists to an in­ter­na­tional as­tron­omy con­fer­ence re­sulted from anti-com­mu­nist fer­vor.

“In his open let­ter to Bolden, Wolf, as usual, con­tin­ued to vi­o­lently slan­der China for the so-called theft of mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial se­crets, and al­leged that China would be pro­vided with more op­por­tu­ni­ties for steal­ing se­crets from the U.S. if the two coun­tries seek co­op­er­a­tion in space­flight,” the news­pa­per stated.

The Chi­nese ac­cused Mr. Wolf of be­ing part of a group that has “long been cling­ing to the Cold War men­tal­ity and prej­u­diced against China.” The pa­per then said China and the U.S. are im­por­tant “space pow­ers,” and noted the use by U.S. as­tro­nauts of a Chi­nese space sta­tion in the new Hol­ly­wood movie “Grav­ity.”

China is seek­ing greater ac­cess to U.S. tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing space know-how, but has been blocked be­cause Bei­jing’s space pro­gram is run by its mil­i­tary, which is de­vel­op­ing high-tech­nol­ogy space war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing mis­siles, killer satel­lites and lasers.


In June, Rus­sian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Ro­gozin de­scribed the RS-26 mis­sile as a “mis­sile de­fense killer” af­ter a suc­cess­ful test flight with dummy war­heads.

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