Russian nuclear submarine test fires intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time

Photo: The missile fired from the nuclear-powered hit its target halfway around the world on Russia’s far-east coast.

Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarine has test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM for the first time and hit a target thousands of kilometres away, the Defence Ministry says.

The test was carried out on Wednesday (local time from the Knyaz Vladimir submarine, a Borei 955A-class vessel submerged in the White Sea near Russia’s Finnish border.

Carrying a fake payload, the missile hit a test site in Russia’s far-east region of Kamchatka near the Bering Sea, according to the ministry.

The submarine is the first upgraded 955A model to be produced in the Borei class of Russian nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

External Link: Russia’s Defence Ministry claims the missile was fired from Russia’s Finnish border to a target in the far east region of Kamchatka.

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 told Russian news agency, TASS.

The test comes amid fears of another arms race between Moscow and the West following the demise of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF.

The treaty, ratified in 1987, banned the US and the Russian Federation — previously the Soviet Union — from developing, testing and possessing ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

The US pulled out of the treaty in August, citing concerns over what they claimed were Russia’s treaty violations.

American observers said Russia’s Novator 9M729 cruise missile violated the pact — a missile which NATO has classified as an intermediate-range missile that “lowers the threshold for nuclear conflict”.

A Russian military officer walks past the 9M729 land-based cruise missile on display with its launcher Photo: This Russian land-based cruise missile prompted the US to accuse Moscow of violating the INF treaty.

However, Russia has rejected these claims.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in February that Washington had refused to talk with Moscow about its withdrawal announcement.

“The unwillingness of the Americans to listen to any arguments [and] the unwillingness of the Americans to hold any substantial talks with us indicates that the decision to scrap this treaty was made in Washington long ago,” Mr Peskov said.

Some experts believe the INF treaty’s collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed up an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.

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.

A Russian Iskander-K missile launches in a green field surrounded by trees. Photo: The US and Russia let the INF treaty lapse in August 2019.