May 11, 2006

Kremlin expresses alarm at US missile plans

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top Kremlin aide said on Thursday that
reported moves by the United States to equip some strategic
rockets with non-nuclear warheads were "irresponsible" and
"extraordinarily dangerous" for Russia.

Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin echoed comments made
by President Vladimir Putin in a keynote speech on Wednesday in
which the Russian leader expressed disquiet at the Pentagon
plans and suggested new disarmament talks.

"Imagine a rocket that can be fired from a submarine. A
nuclear state might not be able to react adequately to the
firing of such a rocket. There is nothing written on it to say
what sort of warhead it is -- whether it is conventional or
nuclear," Sobyanin told reporters.

"It seems to me to be an irresponsible decision ... It is
extraordinarily dangerous," he said.

Referring directly to a Pentagon initiative to arm some
U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles with conventional
warheads, Putin said talk of an end to the arms race had proved

"In fact, its fly wheel is today spinning even faster and
it is moving by itself onto a new technological level (with)
the appearance of a whole arsenal of so-called destabilizing
types of weapons," Putin said.

Sobyanin, a former governor from the oil-producing Tymen
region named to his Kremlin job in November, echoed this saying
there was a need for a return to the disarmament process which
had slipped from the main agenda of international discussions.

But he said Putin had made it clear in his speech that
there would be no return to the Soviet past in which people's
living standards had paid the price for a costly arms race with
the United States.