Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says that 99 percent of his country’s ballistic missiles are on combat alert. “Today, the Strategic Missile Force is maintained at the level allowing for reliably solving nuclear containment tasks. A total of 99% of launchers are in a combat-ready state and 96% of them are constantly ready for an immediate launch,” Shoigu said during a Wednesday meeting.
He added that Russia is currently developing a state of the art missile system with the ability to bypass an echeloned anti-missile defense system. The announcement was made a day after the US military conducted its first-ever intercept test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Following the test, North Korea announced that it is prepared to test-launch an ICBM. One of the country’s state-run newspapers reported on Wednesday that the North Korean army was waiting for orders from their leader Kim Jong-un to test a real ICBM.
Pyongyang also stressed that no foreign powers could halt its progress towards becoming a nuclear and missile power. In mid-May, the United Nations Security Council called on Pyongyang not to conduct any further missile tests.
The North, under an array of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat. North Korea has also said it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless the US ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the United States adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea. Meanwhile, the US military has begun deploying an advanced missile system in South Korea known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), raising the ire of North Korea, China, and Russia.