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U.S. not linked to failed Bulava launches - Russian minister

MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - The United States had nothing to do with a number of unsuccessful launches of Russia's new Bulava sea-based ballistic missile, the Russian defense minister said in an interview with a respected daily.

Some Russian media earlier reported that the U.S. had employed its latest electromagnetic weapons from bases in Alaska, northern Europe and Greenland to disrupt Bulava missile tests.

"The Americans have nothing to do with it," Anatoly Serdyukov told Rossiiskaya Gazeta, adding that testing a missile for combat duty is a long and complicated process. "We didn't avoid failures and errors with all the other missiles that also underwent significant testing," he said.

Despite five failures in 10 trials, the last unsuccessful trial being in December 2008, Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to complete a series of Bulava tests and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009.

The Bulava-M (SS-NX-30) ICBM carries up to 10 nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.

Meanwhile, the Yury Dolgoruky, Russia's first Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, is due to start sea trials in the summer in the White Sea.

Two other Borey class nuclear submarines - the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh - are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard, and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015.

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