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Moscow Launches on Eve of Nobel/SOFA

On the eve that President Obama was to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, Moscow decided to fire one of its submarine-launched Bulava missiles over Oslo, lighting up the night sky with a curious blue streak (see VIDEO). The Bulava-30 is Russia's most advanced SLBM, capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear MIRV warheads.  

The launch was a clear statement of defiance to NATO's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which was slated to be signed today, December 10, between the US and Poland.

The theatrics come two weeks after a November 26 meeting in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, where the Secretary General voiced concerns about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Tehran: 

"It might of course eventually become NATO business as well, because then it is a question of protecting our territories and our populations against a potential threat.  To that end, we are right now considering the possibility to establish missile defense which also covers Europe."

In September, Obama shelved the previous administration's plans to place 10 long-range ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a fixed-site radar station in the Czech Republic.  

The SOFA deal was a prerequisite to setting up a US ground-to-air missile base in Poland. (US officials say deployment should start in 2010). The new U.S. plan would place ship-based SM-3s in the North and Mediterranean seas in 2011, and mobile land-based SM-3s in Central Europe by 2015.

In contrast to the previous system which was strongly opposed by Russia, the new multidirectional radars and missiles would not be able to penetrate deep into Russia's territory.  

Nonetheless, Moscow has a flare for making its displeasures known.