Oct 30, 2019 - World

New Russian submarine tests intercontinental missile for first time

Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine
A Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine after testing launching a Bulava ballistic missile. Photo: TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry said Wednesday that the country's newest nuclear-powered submarine successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: Moscow tested the submarine's launching capabilities following the demise of a three-decade-old nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the U.S.

Details: The new Borei-class submarine launched a Bulava ICBM armed with a dummy payload, while submerged in the White Sea to a test site in Russia's far east.

  • The new class of subs can carry up to 20 missiles and is harder to detect. A single Bulava ICBM can hold a payload of six to 10 warheads, has a range of more than 5,000 miles and is designed to bypass anti-missile defenses, the BBC reports.

The backdrop: The U.S. officially withdrew from the Cold War–era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in August, accusing Moscow of repeatedly violating the treaty.

What's next: The New START Treaty, a 2011 U.S.–Russia agreement to reduce the number of warheads in their arsenals, is set to expire in 2021.

  • Washington and Moscow can agree to extend the treaty for an additional five years, but the Trump administration has attempted to draw China into the extended version of the treaty.
  • Former U.S. officials fear that bringing China into extension talks will jeopardize the original agreement between the world's two largest nuclear powers.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that extending New START may not make sense, according to AP.

Go deeper: China says it won't "stand by idly" if U.S. deploys missiles in Asia

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