Wednesday, December 27, 2000, updated at 22:21(GMT+8)

Russian Nuke Submarine Test-fires Ballistic Missile

The Russian Northern Fleet's nuclear submarine Novomoskovsk test-fired a ballistic missile from the Barents Sea and hit a training target on the Kura testing ground in the Fareast region of Kamchatka Wednesday, a Russian Navy spokesman said.

The test conducted at 11 a.m. Moscow time (0800 GMT) was aimed to check the combat readiness of the Sea-Based Strategic Nuclear Forces, said Igor Dygalo, chief of the Russian Navy's press service.

"The missile launch was one more proof of the readiness of the Sea-Based Strategic Nuclear Forces to ensure Russia's national security," said Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, Commander of the Russian Navy, praising Novomoskovsk Captain Alexander Moiseyev and his crew for their excellent combat skills.

It was the first such test since the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, killing all 118 sailors on board.

In 1998, Novomoskovsk launched a satellite into a near Earth orbit for the first time in world history.

On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said in Baku that Russia has prepared a range of counter-measures if the United States deploy its planned missile defense shield in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

The minister added that the latest declarations made by the incoming U.S. administration "can clearly only provoke concern."

Colin Powell, nominated as the new US secretary of state under Republican President-elect George W. Bush, has said he favors deploying the national missile defense (NMD) system, which Russia strongly opposes.