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Russian Official Asserts Goal of Nuclear Parity with U.S.

BY Admin  December 7, 2007 at 1:22 PM EDT

Ivanov and Putin touring aerospace company

“Military potential, to say nothing of nuclear potential, must be at the proper level if we want … to just stay independent,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Ivanov as saying, Reuters reported.

“The weak are not loved and not heard, they are insulted, and when we have parity they will talk to us in a different way,” he said at a meeting of veterans and other members of Russia’s military-industrial commission, which marks its 50th anniversary.

Ivanov said every year Russia would commission six or seven of its “Topol-M” nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, though it was capable of producing 25 or 30 annually, according to Reuters. The missiles can carry up to six warheads and are mounted on mobile launchers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also has made statements about the nation’s efforts to reassert itself as a world power and boost its defenses.

Analysts describe Ivanov as a possible candidate to succeed Putin, who is constitutionally required to step down after his second term ends, following the March 2 election.

Putin’s United Russia party is expected to announce its candidate Dec. 17, according to news agencies. Parties have until Dec. 23 to name their nominees.

Putin is considered to be largely popular in Russia and is credited with instituting economic reforms that have helped stabilize the country. His policies may largely continue after his departure if a member of his party succeeds him.

In the Dec. 2 parliamentary elections, the United Russia party won 315 of 450 seats in the State Duma.

Opposition groups and some international election observers criticized the vote as being influenced by one-sided media coverage and said Putin abused his office by campaigning for his party.

The Communist Party, which won 57 Duma seats and was the only anti-Kremlin party to secure representation in the parliamentary body, alleged that there were high levels of voter impersonation and other forms of ballot fraud.

“We sent a complaint to the Central Election Commission (CEC) asking that the results of the election should not be recognized, and if the CEC rejects this, we will file a suit with the Supreme Court,” party member Vadim Solovyev told Reuters.

Russia’s top election official said he knew of no serious violations.