Russia Says ICBM Sub Tests Near North Pole a Success

Russia successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from a nuclear-powered submarine from the area of the North Pole, the defense minister said Sunday.

The nuclear submarine K-84 launched the missile Saturday, and all three test warheads hit their target, a testing range in the Archangelsk region on the Barents Sea, Sergei Ivanov reported to President Vladimir Putin in televised comments.

"The launch was successful," he said, adding that it had been challenging: "Aiming from the North Pole, where the concepts of latitude and longitude are relative, makes this launch difficult."

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Ivanov suggested it was the first time a test-launch from the area had been conducted by the Russian military in 11 years.

He spoke days after an unsuccessful test of a new sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile. An experimental Bulava missile launched from a submerged nuclear submarine in the White Sea on Thursday veered off its designated flight path and fell into the sea, according to the Defense Ministry.

Following that failure, Ivanov urged quick action to prevent the failure from derailing plans for commissioning a new class of submarines and said sea-based nuclear missiles should remain an important component of Russia's nuclear deterrent, Russian news agencies reported.

On Sunday, Ivanov told Putin — and the nation, as his comments were prominently featured on state-run television — that Russia has eight nuclear-armed submarines on duty at sea.

Putin and Ivanov, who is also vice-premier and seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2008, have repeatedly stressed that Russia will maintain enough nuclear weapons to provide for its security.

Ivanov said Saturday's test-launch was part of "serious exercises of the sea-based strategic nuclear forces" that ended Sunday.

He also said that another submarine, in the Pacific Ocean, test-fired an ICBM on Sunday, and that two of its test warheads hit the targeted range, Russia news agencies reported. It was unclear how many test warheads the missile carried.