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Hypersonic Weapon Is Now Deployed, Russia Says

Development could renew arms race or restart negotiations with US
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2019 9:01 AM CST
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In this photo taken from undated footage distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, an intercontinental ballistic missile lifts off from a silo.   (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
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(Newser) – Russia said its new, intercontinental weapon that can carry a nuclear warhead, travel at 3,800 mph, and is invulnerable to US missile defense systems is ready to use. US officials said they believe it. The Russian military made the announcement Friday, the New York Times reports, raising the possibility of a renewed arms race. No other country has such a hypersonic weapon, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted last week, per the BBC, saying that they're all "playing catch-up with us." A general said the Avangard system has been deployed in the Orenburg region, in the southern Urals Mountains, per NBC. Putin first announced development of the system in March 2018, comparing the milestone to the launch of the first satellite in 1957 by the Soviet Union.

The US doesn't expect to have its own hypersonic weapons ready before 2022. In the meantime, Russia said the Avangard's ability to make quick turns means that current missile defense systems can't stop it. American diplomats said Russia might be trying to get the US to restart arms negotiations. President Trump has not committed to renewing New START, which expires in early 2021. It's the only major arms treaty in effect between the two nations, limiting strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads. Trump has said he wants China and other nuclear nations to be included in a new treaty. (Read more arms race stories.)

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