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Russia 'tests new missile systems'

A Russian Topol-M ICBM is launched from a site in Plesetsk in 1999.
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President Putin announces Russia has exclusive nuclear missile systems
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that his country's armed forces will soon have access to advanced nuclear missile systems unavailable in any other country.

"We are conducting research and are testing the most up-to-date nuclear missile systems, which, I'm sure, will be supplied to the armed forces in the near future," Putin told a conference of high-ranking military officials, according to a translation from Russia's Interfax News Agency.

"What is even more important, these systems will have no analogues in the other nuclear powers during the next few years."

The Bush administration said the developments in Russia's nuclear program are consistent with the Moscow Treaty, signed between President Bush and Putin in May 2002.

"We are confident that Russia's plans are not threatening and are consistent with its obligations, and I think are indicative of a new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia that is focused on reducing threats and increasing confidence," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

The treaty, which required both sides to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012, was designed to establish a new strategic relationship between the two nations based on partnership and cooperation.

But State Department officials told CNN on condition of anonymity that although they don't think Putin's comments are anything to worry about, they will be seeking further clarification from the Russians about the specific modernizations in Moscow's program.

"As far as we can tell there is nothing to be concerned about, but Putin did not give a lot of detail," one official said. "We are trying to figure out what he meant. Did he mean what we think he means or is this something that is not covered by the treaty?"

Another official said that Putin's comments could be viewed as an attempt to impress his military leaders with assurances that Russia's weapons programs are competitive.

"This may well have been his way of talking to his defense folks," this official said. "But we are trying to find out more."

President Bush will meet with Putin in Chile later this week at a summit of Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, where he is expected to discuss the matter, this official said.

CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report

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