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Russia test-fires Topol-M

By Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW, DEC. 24. Russia has successfully test-fired a mobile version of its latest Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday. The Topol-M system, fired from the Plesetsk base in the far northern region of Arkhangelsk, hit the designated target in Kura test range on Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. It was the last for the mobile Topol-M system before it begins to be deployed in 2006. Topol-M missiles will eventually become the backbone of Russia's land-based strategic missile forces.

The missile can carry three nuclear-tipped warheads weighing 1.2 tonnes, have a range of over 11,000 km and can manoeuvre in ways that are difficult to detect. The President, Vladimir Putin, said last month that "no other nuclear power has or will have such weapons in the years to come." A silo-based version of Topol-M has been deployed since 1998.

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