Russia test fires ballistic missile
( Reuters ) - Russia launched an inter-continental ballistic missile on Thursday from its Plesetsk cosmodrome in the north of the country, a Russian military spokesman said.
The RS-12M Topol', called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO and configured for a mobile platform, was successfully launched at 9:10 a.m. Moscow time (1:10 a.m. EDT).
The spokesman said the training exercise included hitting a target at the Kura test range on the Kamchatka peninsula on Russia's Pacific coast.
The test was part of a reliability evaluation of flight stabilizers the Topol' uses over long distances, and part of a planned extension of the missile's life-span to 23 years.
As configured in 1985, the ICBM has a maximum range of 10,000 km ( 6,215 miles), and can carry one 550-kiloton nuclear warhead.
The missiles are produced at the Votkinsk Missile Building Plant near Izhevsk, 1,000 km east of Moscow, where a small group of U.S. inspectors has monitored factory production since 1988 as part of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that unless a treaty on short and medium range missiles was expanded to include other countries, remaining in such a treaty would be difficult for Russia. He did not specify the INF treaty.
Putin suspended Russia's obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty in April, in a move he linked to U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe.
An audience of officers and soldiers from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome is set later on Thursday to take part in Putin's sixth Internet and telephone Q& A session with the public.