WASHINGTON: Russia is pressing ahead with a new nuclear missile which Moscow claims is a part of a renewed effort to bolster the country’s missile defense systems.
This new intercontinental ballistic missile, nicknamed “Satan” by Western analysts, will sport a 100-ton warhead and replace the Voevoda-class missile in the Russian nuclear arsenal, according to recent news reports. This massive ICBM will take its place alongside the Yars, Topol-M and Bulava-class ballistic missiles sometime in 2015, according to Sergei Karakaev, head of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces. Development of the new ICBM will coincide with plans to revamp the country’s missile silo complexes over the next decade, Karakaev told Russian media. Moscow’s decision to accelerate work on the new “Satan”-class ICBM was directly tied to recently failed missile defense negotiations between Russia and the United States.
Russian president Dimitri Medvedev broke off negotiations with the White House in November on the administration’s plan to set up a missile shield in Europe. The European Phased Adaptive Approach plan is a network of sea and land-based missile launchers designed to counter missile strikes from Iran. Cooperation with Russia is integral to making the missile shield work. But Moscow claims the U.S. could not guarantee American missiles would not be used to take out Russian targets. “Russia does not stand against the U.S. missile defense system. Russia stands against the creation of the missile defense system, which would be directly aimed against Russia,” Karakaev said. That impasse forced Medvedev to walk away from the deal and begin work on its own super nuke.
But Washington’s unwillingness to hand over classified missile defense secrets to their Russian counterparts was the real deal breaker between the former Cold War rivals, according to one key GOP lawmaker. Sen Mark Kirk told Breaking Defense last week that Russia could not be trusted with America’s most sensitive missile defense technologies. The country’s well-established ties with Iran would virtually guarantee any secrets handed to the Russians would make their way to Tehran, Kirk said. That kind of cooperation would hand Tehran exactly what they need to deter the European missile shield, courtesy of their friends in Moscow.
The State Department and the Pentagon remain committed to bringing the Russians back to the negotiating table. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the U.S. is determined to find “common ground” with Russia on the proposed missile shield. Dempsey would not comment on what proposals American negotiators were offering to entice Russia back to the negotiating table since those proposals are constantly in flux. The upside to that, he noted, is that negotiators on both sides are in “constant contact” to get a deal done, he said.