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    Russia's Medvedev observes test launch of Topol ICBM -2

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    (Recasts, adds details in paragraph 3)

    PLESETSK (Arkhangelsk Region, northern Russia), October 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev observed on Sunday the test launch of a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia. (Images)

    The missile was launched by Russia's Strategic Missile Force at 11:24 a.m. Moscow time (7:24 GMT).

    Medvedev announced that the Topol missile had successfully hit the target at the Kura test range in the Russian Far East at 11:50 a.m. Moscow time (7:50 GMT).

    Topol (SS-25 Sickle) is a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) approximately the same size and shape as the U.S. Minuteman ICBM. The first Topol missiles became operational in 1985.

    Although the service life of the SS-25 was extended to 21 years after a series of successful test launches last year, the missile will be progressively retired over the next decade and be replaced by a mobile version of the Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) missile.

    On Saturday, Medvedev also observed military exercises of the Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea, including a full-range test of the Sineva ballistic missile that traveled a record 11,547 km (7,170 miles).

    The exercises test Russia's strategic and regional deterrent and the structures of the Northern Fleet, particularly in relation to the naval strategic nuclear forces.

    An aide to the Russian navy commander said it was the first time a submarine had launched the Sineva ballistic missile to its maximum range.

    "For the first time in Navy history, the launch was not to the Kura test range in Kamchatka, but to the area of an equatorial part of the Pacific," Captain 1st rank Igor Dygalo said, adding that the launch was made to check the preparedness of naval strategic nuclear forces.

    The Sineva launch was made as part of the Dvina tactical exercises of the Russian Northern Fleet, which are also part of larger-scale Stability-2008 exercises conducted with Belarus that started in September and will run until October 21.

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