MOSCOW — The military declared 10 newly designed nuclear missiles ready for combat Sunday in its first deployment of the Topol-M, developed to maintain Russia's position as a nuclear power.
The single-warhead Topol-M, whose range has been reported to exceed 6,200 miles, will be the new heart of Russia's missile forces, and 40 are expected to be built by the end of 2000, replacing heavier, multiple-warhead missiles. The missile is designed to be fired from a vehicle, and its mobility makes it safer from preemptive strikes than silo-based missiles.
The Topol-Ms are allowed under the U.S.-Russian START-1 nuclear disarmament pact. They would also be permitted under START-2, which has not yet been ratified by Moscow and mandates cuts in the two nations' nuclear warheads to no more than 3,500 each by 2007.
A parliament committee is drafting a bill that would guarantee funding for Russia's strategic missiles until 2010, the Interfax news agency reported.