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    COMMISSION LOOKING INTO MISSILE LAUNCH FAILURE AT RECENT EXERCISES POINTS TO TECHNICAL FAULTS

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 10 (RIA NOVOSTI) - The preliminary findings of the interdepartmental commission on investigation into the self-destruction of a missile during the recent exercises on the Northern Fleet point to technical faults, a high-ranking source in the commission told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

    "As seen from the commission's preliminary findings, it can be technical faults which caused the incident with the launch of a missile from the nuclear submarine the Karelia with the subsequent course deviation of the missile and its eventual self-destruction," the source said. He did not specify what "technical faults" were in question.

    The commission also looked into the human factor, or the crew's actions. Sources in the Northern Fleet headquarters confirm this information. "Technical faults may be the cause of the failure with the launch of the ballistic missile," said the source.

    Official information about the incident happening during the Northern Fleet exercise has been reported to the mass media by Igor Dygalo, Captain 1st Rank, aide to the commander-in-chief of the Navy. He said that in the 98th second of flight the missile launched from the Karelia deviated from the set course, as a result of which the missile's self-destruction system worked. The Defense Ministry added that an automatics malfunction in the guidance system might have been the cause.

    Vladimir Putin was observing the launch.

    The commission will officially sum up the findings very soon. Last week, on March 5, Vladimir Kuroyedov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, and Alexander Rukshin, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, heading the interdepartmental commission of investigation returned to Moscow from the Northern Fleet.

    Earlier, RIA Novosti was told in the Northern Fleet headquarters that Kuroyedov and Rukshin during two days and behind closed doors were hearing reports by the chiefs of the working commissions checking the Northern Fleet. Within the next few days Rukshin and Kuroyedov are expected to report to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on results of their check of the Northern Fleet.

    The working commissions spent several days making checks of the Northern Fleet. They were made up of admirals, generals and officers of the Russian General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Main Staff of the Russian Navy.

    Earlier, Sergei Ivanov told journalists that "no haste is made and no deadline exists for summing up results of fault finding. Only after all has been thoroughly investigated and the causes fixed will it become clear what to do next." To Sergei Ivanov, results will not be summed up before April. At the same time, another similar exercise is planned for this year, he said. "We will necessarily hold it, though I don't know on which fleet. It does not matter because such weapons systems exist in each," Ivanov stressed.

    "The faults found during the strategic command-and-staff drill concerned only the Navy and were linked to the launch of an international sea-based ballistic missile. We have no claims to put to other fighting arms and services," Sergei Ivanov said.

    All the troops and units involved in the exercise fulfilled their missions, including experimental involving new specimens of strategic weapons, Ivanov said. To him, such exercises are held to reveal the weak and strong points. "If we didn't hold such exercises for another ten years we would not know about the real state of affairs. Now we understand the faults," Sergei Ivanov stressed.

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