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Russia's increased missile output announcement aimed at testing Obama early

By Staff

London, Dec 25 (ANI): Russia has thrown down a new challenge to incoming Barack Obama Administration with an announcement that it will sharply increase production of strategic nuclear missiles.

Moscow's strategy appears to be to challenge Obama's new administration as soon as it takes office on January 20, The Guardian reported.

On the day Obama was elected, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to station short-range Iskander missiles in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave as a counter to American installation of its missile defence system in Eastern Europe.

Ruben Sergeev, an expert on disarmament issues, said Moscow was afraid of falling behind in a new arms race.

In the latest of a series of combative moves by the Kremlin, the Russian military would commission 70 strategic missiles over the next three years, as part of a massive rearmament programme which will also include short-range missiles, 300 tanks, 14 warships and 50 planes, a senior government official in Moscow has said.

Military experts said the planned new arsenal was presumed to consist of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) rather than submarine-launched missiles, The Guardian reported.

If this is the case, the plans represent a fourfold increase in the rate of ICBM deployment. The arsenal will include a new-generation, multiple-warhead ICBM called the RS-24. It was first test-fired in 2007, with first Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov boasting it was "capable of overcoming any existing or future missile defence systems."

The new missiles will be part of a 95billion pounds defence procurement package for 2009-2011, a 28 percent increase in arms spending, according to Vladislav Putilin of the cabinet's military-industrial commission.

The new military procurements follow the war in Georgia in August. Russian forces easily routed Georgian troops, but the conflict exposed weaknesses in the Russian army, including outdated equipment and poorly co-ordinated command structures.

The Russian Defence Ministry said it would carry out drastic reforms, turning the army into a more modern force.

Military experts said the construction of 70 long-range nuclear missiles in the next three years represented a Russian attempt to strengthen its bargaining position with Washington, in talks aimed at agreeing new nuclear weapons cuts when the current treaty in force, Start I, expires next December. (ANI)

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