(Reuters) - The Russian
bear showed its claws on Tuesday before a
summit with Western leaders,
saying it had tested nuclear-capable
missiles as a possible response to
the United States pulling out of a
- The commander of Russia's navy was quoted as saying that
test-firings of three submarine-based Stingray missiles on October 1-2
were a partial response to possible U.S. plans to withdraw from the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty.
- RIA news agency quoted Admiral
Vladimir Kuroyedov as
saying the launches should be seen as "one
of the elements of Russia's
asymmetrical response to the possible
withdrawal of the United States.".
- By "asymmetrical
response," Russian officials
appeared to be referring to a build
up of Russia's offensive nuclear strike
capability in response to the
- The statement, the latest in a series of increasingly
Russian remarks over ABM, came just before a European security
in Istanbul, where presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton are
expected to have their iciest encounter ever.
- Yeltsin's spokesman has said
ABM will be on the agenda
when he meets Clinton.
- The Cold-War-era ABM treaty
banned systems designed to
shoot down enemy missiles, under the logic
that such defenses would have
spurred the United States and Russia to
build ever larger arsenals of nuclear
warheads to break through enemy
- Now, with the Cold War over, the United States wants
a system to defend itself against a possible launch from North
Iran or another of what it calls "rogue states".
- U.S. administration officials have asked Russia to amend
the pact to allow Washington to deploy the new system. Moscow says doing
so could trigger a new nuclear arms race.
- Last month Yeltsin warned
Clinton of "extremely
dangerous consequences" if the United
States goes ahead with its plans.
- Armed Forces Chief of Staff
Anatoly Kvashnin said on
Monday Russia was convinced Washington
intended to break the treaty. Russia
planned to respond by beefing up
its own nuclear arsenal.
- Tuesday's statement was the first time that Russian
have directly linked the test of an offensive nuclear strike
the arms control row.
- A Russian general made a similar statement last month
about the test of a Russian anti-missile rocket, a defensive
- Russia's cash strapped military rarely test-fires expensive
missiles. Officials earlier said the Stingray tests were aimed at
whether the missile's shelf life could be extended.
- Defense analysts say
Russia is working on a new submarine
launched ballistic missile to
match its latest generation of land-based
Topol M missiles.
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