Russia working on new nuclear weapons

Russia is developing new nuclear weapons systems unlike anything in other countries' arsenals, says President Vladimir Putin.

New nuclear weapons systems being developed in Russia could include a missile designed to defeat the U.S. missile defence shield.

Speaking with senior military leaders in Moscow on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said research and testing are underway for new missile systems unlike anything in other countries' arsenals.

"I am sure that they will be put in service within the next few years and, what is more, they will be developments of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have," said Putin, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

"International terrorism is one of the major threats for Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defence as a nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur," said Putin.

Among the systems thought to be in the works for Russia's military is a new type of warhead designed to outwit the missile defence shield being developed by the United States.

Experts say the warhead is intended to be manoeuvrable like a cruise missile after re-entering the atmosphere from space.

Reports in Russian news media have suggested Russia is developing a nuclear missile that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing a total of four tonnes, and a mobile version of its Topol-M ballistic missile.

The Topol-M has a range of 10,000 kilometres, and have been deployed in silos since 1998. They reportedly can manoeuvre in ways that are difficult to detect.

Since taking office, Putin has often vowed to restore Russia's military power.

The latest comments come ahead of this weekend's summit of the Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation organization, where Putin is expected to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush.