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Russia successfully tests nuclear-capable missile amid Trump’s proposed nuclear negotiations

Russia test-fired an ICBM on Friday, March 30, 2018. (Screen Shot/Russian Defense Ministry/Twitter)
July 31, 2019

Russia recently successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, according to a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The road-mobile missile reportedly hit its target about 994 miles, or 1,600 kilometers, away, in Sary-Shagan, Kazakhstan. The July 26 test was conducted by Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, a military branch of the Russian Armed Forces that controls its land-based ICBMs, the Diplomat reported.

“On July 26, 2019, a combat unit of the strategic missile forces conducted a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile of the Topol mobile ground-based missile system from the Kapustin Yar state central practice range in the Astrakhan region,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The missile was reportedly an RT-2PM2 Topol, which is part of series of “experimental missile[s] for conducting the trials of new types of ICBM,” according to the Russian-owned TASS news agency.

The ICBM test comes at a time when the Trump Administration has begun a set of new nuclear treaty negotiations with Russia and China.

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The current agreement, called the New START agreement, was signed April 8, 2010, and caps U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

The agreement is set to expire in 2021 and rather than extend it, the White House stated in April it wants to limit more types of Russian systems in a new agreement.

“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t,” Trump said in April, according to CNN. “In which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.”

Since New START only covers a “small sub-set of weapons that Russia was covering,” a White House official told CNN, “We should bring all of those weapons under control.”

The official added, “We should eliminate as many of them as possible, we should look to eliminate classes of weapons.”

One key difference between now and the New START negotiations from 2009 and 2010 is Russia wasn’t conducting nuclear tests then. The latest ICBM test is just one in a series of tests that have been going on for years, with other recently conducted tests taking place in February 2019 and June 2018.

The February test was “to check, tactical, technical and flight characteristics of the prospective missile system,” according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The test in June 2018 was of another variation of a nuclear-capable ICBM, the RS-24 ICBM.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also claimed it successfully tested a silo-based Topol-M nuclear-capable ICBM in mid-January 2017.

“The missile’s exercise head hit a hypothetical target at a firing range in the Kamchatka Peninsula with high degree of precision. The launch was geared to confirm the stability of flight characteristics of this type of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the ministry claimed in a Jan. 17 statement.