MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s most advanced new nuclear-powered submarine test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time and hit a target thousands of kilometres away, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
The test was carried out while the Borei-class vessel was submerged and comes amid arms control tensions between Moscow and the West following the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact that has sparked fears of a burgeoning arms race.
The launch was conducted in the White Sea off Russia’s north with a dummy payload reaching a test site in the Far East Russian region of Kamchatka, the ministry said.
The Knyaz Vladimir submarine is the first upgraded 955A model to be produced in the Borei class of Russian nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
It will enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of this year once it has completed trials including weapons tests, the fleet’s commander, Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseev said according to TASS news agency.
The global arms control architecture erected during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check has come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The United States in August pulled out of the accord that banned the deployment of short and intermediate range missiles, accusing Moscow of flouting it, something Russia denies.
The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Giles Elgood)