MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Recent launches of Sineva ballistic missiles by the Russian Navy were part of routine procedures to check the safety and effectiveness of the country's nuclear arsenal, a military analyst said on Wednesday.
Russia carried out test launches of two Sineva missiles from two Delta IV class nuclear-powered submarines in service with the Northern Fleet, located under an ice floe near the North Pole, on July 13-14.
"It is necessary to periodically check the performance of randomly chosen missiles to ensure the combat readiness of the entire arsenal," Gen. (Ret.) Makhmud Gareyev, the president of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.
The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a third-generation liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that entered service with the Russian Navy in July 2007. It can carry four or 10 nuclear warheads, depending on the modification.
Russia plans to equip its Delta IV class strategic submarines with at least 100 Sineva missiles.
"In addition, submarine crews should practice launch procedures from time to time, it is an intrinsic part of their combat training," Gareyev said.
The analyst added that safety checks of the Russian nuclear arsenal, including missile test-launches, have become even more important in light of the new Russian-U.S. arms reduction agreement set to replace the START I treaty, which expires in December 2009.
"The new agreements will certainly include provisions to deal with the safety of nuclear arsenals, both in active service and in storage, and without periodical testing we cannot be sure of their condition," the analyst said.
He added that the Sineva tests did not mean that the Russian military was planning to abandon plans to continue testing the newest Bulava SLBM despite five failures in 10 tests.
"The tests and the development of both missiles will continue simultaneously," Gareyev said, adding "The Bulava will be a success."
Last month Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, the Russian Navy commander, said Russia would carry out the next test of a Bulava missile in late July, one of a total of four or five scheduled launches this year.
The Bulava-M (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Russia's newest Borey-class nuclear-powered strategic submarines.
The Russian military says the Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, will become the core of Russia's nuclear triad.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said in a statement on its website that the launch of Sineva SLBMs by the Russian Navy on July 13-14 was part of the program to extend the missile's service life.
"The third-generation [Sineva] SLBM, according to experts, will remain in service with the Russian Navy until at least 2015," the statement said.