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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Friday, February 09, 2007

Russia Plans to Add Eight Nuclear Missile Submarines

Russia announced plans yesterday to build eight ballistic missile submarines by 2015, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, July 31, 2006).

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov played down the importance of recent test failures of the missile to be deployed on the new submarines, saying the results “were within the norm” of expectations for a testing program (see GSN, Feb. 5).

Combined with increased numbers of land-based missiles, the sea-based deployments would allow Russia to replace 45 percent of its existing nuclear arsenal by 2015, Ivanov said.

Improved revenues from the oil exports have allowed Russia to increase its defense spending. The defense budget was $8.1 billion in 2001 and grew to $31 billion this year, AP reported.

“The Russian leadership believes that a nuclear parity with the United States is vitally important because it allows it to conduct an equal dialogue on other issues,” said military analyst Alexander Golts (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press/International Herald Tribune, Feb. 8).

In announcing Russian nuclear ambitions, Ivanov lamented the nation’s past reductions, in particular a U.S.-Russian treaty to ban the possession of medium-range ballistic missiles.

The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty led the two nations to destroy thousands of nuclear missiles that had been deployed in Europe during the Cold War (see GSN, March 3, 2006).

“The gravest mistake was the decision to scrap a whole class of missile weapons — medium-range ballistic missiles,” Ivanov told parliament. “Only Russia and the United States do not have the right to have such weapons, although they would be quite useful for us” (RIA Novosti, Feb. 7).
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