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RUSSIAN ROCKETS: ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

SS_18.jpgIf you were a cash-stripped missile force with a large number of missiles to decommission, how would you do it?Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, facing deactivation of the some SS-18 "Satan" ICBMs under the START I Treaty, have decided to use the silo-based missiles to launch commercial satellites, according to the Moscow Gazeta.ru website. The original article is in Russian, but a translation is available from the World News Connection (subscription required).Eliminating a missile by launching it is permitted under the START Treaty's Protocol on Procedures Governing Conversion or Elimination. But the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces have reportedly not done so, in part because the exhaust from an ICBM launch is highly toxic.First up, however, Russia will rattle the sabers, especially regarding missile defense, with a test launch. After that, though, it's all ringing cash registers.Above right: Part of an SS-18 dismantled in the traditional manner (Defense Threat Reduction Agency).--Jeffrey Lewis

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