CNN Worldnews / AP – 2004-03-31 08:50:25
MOSCOW, Russia (AP) — Russia has designed a “revolutionary” weapon that would make the prospective US missile defense useless, Russian news agencies reported, quoting a senior Defense Ministry official.
The official, who was not identified by name, said tests conducted during last month’s military maneuvers would dramatically change the philosophy behind development of Russia’s nuclear forces, the Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies reported on Monday.
If deployed, the new weapon would take the value of any U.S. missile shield to “zero,” the news agencies quoted the official as saying.
The official said the new weapon would be inexpensive, providing an “asymmetric answer” to US missile defenses, which are proving extremely costly to develop.
Russia, meanwhile, also has continued research in prospective missile defenses and has an edge in some areas compared to other nations, the official said.
The statement reported Monday was in line with claims by President Vladimir Putin’s that experiments performed during last month’s maneuvers proved that Russia could soon build strategic weapons that could puncture any missile-defense system.
At the time, Col-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, explained that the military tested a “hypersonic flying vehicle” that was able to maneuver between space and the earth’s atmosphere.
Military analysts said that the mysterious new weapons could be a maneuverable ballistic missile warhead or a hypersonic cruise missile.
While Putin said the development of such new weapons wasn’t aimed against the United States, most observers viewed the move as Moscow’s retaliation to the US missile defense plans.
After years of vociferous protests, Russia reacted calmly when Washington withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 in order to develop of a nationwide missile shield. But US-Russian relations have soured again lately, and Moscow has complained about Washington’s plans to build new low-yield nuclear weapons.