Putin: Russia developing new weapon

President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia is currently developing a new form of nuclear missile unlike those held by other countries, news agencies reported.

Speaking at a meeting of the Armed Forces’ leadership, Putin reportedly said that Russia is researching and successfully testing new nuclear missile systems.

“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,” Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

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

No details were immediately available, but Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in early November that Russia planned to test-fire a mobile version of Topol-M ballistic missiles in 2004 and production of the new weapon could be commissioned in 2005.

News reports have also said Russia is believed to be developing a next-generation heavy nuclear missile that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing a total of 4.4 tons, compared with the Topol-M’s 1.32-ton combat payload.



Suicide bombers, battles claim 27 lives

A suicide car bomber blasted an American convoy north of Baghdad and U.S. troops battled insurgents west of the capital yesterday as a wave of violence across Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland killed at least 27 people.

American forces pursued their search-and-destroy mission against the remaining holdouts in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, and to the north, American forces pressed an offensive to reclaim part of the city of Mosul from militants.

November became one of Iraq’s bloodiest months as the U.S. death toll in the war in Iraq reached 1,206 with new Defense Department identifications Tuesday night and yesterday, according to an Associated Press tally.

Yesterday, a suicide attacker drove his bomb-laden car into a U.S. convoy during fierce fighting in the town of Beiji, 155 miles north of the Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding 12, including three American soldiers. Another attack on a convoy of civilian contractors in Beiji caused no casualties.

Elsewhere, a three-hour gunbattle between militants and U.S. forces after nightfall left seven people dead and 13 hurt in Ramadi, a city west of Fallujah.



New guidelines drafted for federal sentences

Judges and legal scholars are working on new guidelines for sentencing federal criminals, in anticipation that the Supreme Court will strike down a 17-year-old system that has been challenged as unconstitutional.

About 30,000 cases have backed up since last June’s high court decision raised questions about the legality of the system. The court now is considering if the guidelines must be replaced because they call for judges, not juries, to consider factors that can add years to prison sentences.

A ruling is likely before the end of 2004, and experts helping a federal panel draft alternatives were generally united in predicting that at least part of the guidelines will be overturned.



Congress to update special education law

Congress is poised to approve the first major changes to special education in seven years, updating a landmark law that now serves 6.7 million children.

House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on the terms of a bill after weeks of closed-door talks and nearly two years of debate in Congress, aides close to the discussions said Tuesday.

The bill aims to boost discipline in class, better identify children with disabilities, get help to students earlier and reduce lawsuits by parents.


— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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