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US Not Alarmed by Russian Development of Nuclear Missile  - 2004-11-18

The Bush administration says it is not alarmed by Russia's announcement it is developing a new nuclear missile. Russian President Vladimir Putin says the program is part of efforts to improve Russia's armed forces.

U.S. officials are not expressing any surprise or alarm over President Putin's decision to develop new nuclear missiles.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says the Russian plans fall within the framework of the Moscow Treaty, which calls for the mutual reduction in strategic offensive weapons.

"So we do not perceive Russia's nuclear sustainment and modernization activities as threatening," he said. "And, what they are doing are fully consistent with our mutual obligations under the Moscow treaty."

Pentagon officials say they are not alarmed either and will wait to see what is actually developed.

President Putin told a meeting of senior military leaders that Russia cannot ignore international terrorist threats or the need to develop new defenses.

"We will continue to build our armed forces and its nuclear components," Mr. Putin said. "They should be put into service in the next few years. He added the new missiles would be unlike any used by other nuclear powers. "

He did not provide details.

Mr. Putin's speech comes a few days before the Russian leader's meeting with President Bush in Chile during the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Victor Kremenyuk is Deputy Director of the Institute of USA and Canada Studies in Moscow. He says the new missiles do not pose a threat to the United States.

"First of all I think that this is something which should be trusted because, yes, the Russians have the possibility to develop new types of weaponry in the strategic area," he noted.

Mr. Putin's plans are seen as part of his effort to rebuild Russia's military might, which deteriorated after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia's defense minister has talked recently of plans to test-fire a new version of its light-weight ballistic Topol-M missile soon. Russia is also reported to be developing a new generation of heavy nuclear missiles that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads.