MOSCOW (AP) - Russia has tested an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that canâ€™t be intercepted, President Vladimir Putin declared Thursday, claiming a technological breakthrough that could dramatically increase Russiaâ€™s military capability, boost the Kremlinâ€™s global position and also raise Western concerns about a potential renewed arms race in the 21st century.
Speaking in a state-of-the-nation speech, Putin said the weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world. He said the creation of the new weapons has made NATOâ€™s U.S.-led missile defense â€śuseless,â€ť and means an effective end to what he described as Western efforts to stymie Russiaâ€™s development.
He noted that Russia had to develop the new weapons as the U.S. has developed a missile defense system that threatened to undermine the Russian nuclear deterrent and ignored Moscowâ€™s concerns about it.
â€śNo one has listened to us,â€ť he said. â€śYou listen to us now.â€ť
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said the Defense Department isnâ€™t surprised by Russian President Vladimir Putinâ€™s claims of new nuclear weapons, adding that the U.S. military is prepared to defend the nation.
White told Pentagon reporters that American missile defense has never been about Russia.
The U.S. has consistently argued that missile defense systems in Europe arenâ€™t aimed at Moscow, but instead designed to defend against threats from Iran, North Korea and rogue threats.
Putinâ€™s bombshell announcement comes as he is set to easily win another six-year presidential term in the March 18 election.
He said that the nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last fall has a â€śpractically unlimitedâ€ť range and high speed and maneuverability allowing it to pierce any missile defense.
The Russian leader said the high-speed underwater drone also has an â€śintercontinentalâ€ť range and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities. He said its â€śvery bigâ€ť operational depth and a speed that is at least 10 times higher than any other vessel would make it immune to enemy intercept.