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Medvedev Touts Russian Iskander Ballistic Missile

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday touted the capabilities of the Iskander ballistic missile, a short-range weapon that Moscow has threatened to deploy against the evolving U.S.-NATO missile shied, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, May 14).

The Iskander M missile "without doubt" stands above comparable systems deployed by other nations and ought to form the backbone of Russian ground forces missile detachments, he said.

At present, the ballistic missile is delivered in separate components that are later assembled prior to deployment. "So our decision on the need for these weapon systems to be delivered in complete sets is absolutely right," Medvedev said.

Moscow has issued a number of warnings that it could field Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if an accord is not reached regarding NATO plans to field ballistic missile defense infrastructure in Europe. The Kremlin suspects the Western antimissile plan is secretly aimed at undermining its strategic nuclear weapons though Washington and Brussels insist the missile shield is aimed at protecting against a possible Iranian missile strike.

Russia has authorized $750 million in contracts to 17 weapon builders for development of ground-transportable KBM high-altitude Iskander missiles, Medvedev said. (RIA Novosti I, July 23).

The tactical weapon can travel up to 250 miles and is reportedly nuclear-capable (RIA Novosti II, July 22).

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