Kremlin Voices Concern at U.S. Conventional Missile Plans
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, MOSCOW
The Kremlin voiced worry May 11 at reported U.S. plans to mount
non-nuclear warheads on intercontinental strategic missiles to strike
targets anywhere in the world within minutes with no prior warning and
called for talks on subject.
"I think this would be an irresponsible decision," said Sergei
Sobyanin, the newly-appointed head of President Vladimir Putin's
Kremlin administration, in a briefing to a group of foreign reporters.
The use of such a weapon could produce confusion and an unpredictable
response from other countries, Sobyanin said.
"This is an extremely dangerous trend," he said, adding: "There needs
to be a dialogue about this."
Although he did not directly name the United States, Putin on May 10
also raised Russia's concern over plans to put conventional warheads
on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), weapons long at the
center of the former U.S.-Soviet Cold War arms race and key
"The launch of one such missile may trigger an inadequate response
from the nuclear powers, including a full-scale retaliatory strike
with the use of strategic nuclear forces," Putin said in his annual
state of the nation address.
A U.S. Defense Department report posted on the Internet states that
plans to incorporate conventional weapons capabilities into U.S.
strategic nuclear forces have been under investigation since Congress
called for a post-Cold War review of the country's nuclear deterrent
forces in 2001.
Western arms experts have cautioned, however, that Russia in
particular would have to be provided with some way of distinguishing a
conventionally-armed ICBM from a nuclear-tipped ICBM to ensure that
any use of such a weapon was not a nuclear strike.
U.S. experts say that conventional ICBMs would give the option of
striking a target anywhere on Earth within about 30 minutes and with a
large element of surprise, since there is no reliance on easily
detectable ships or aircraft.
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