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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 23:12 GMT
US detects Russian missiles
Joint
Joint monitoring is taking place at Peterson Air Force Base
Russia launched three short-range - less than 500 km - missiles into Chechnya on Friday, the Pentagon has reported.

The missiles were monitored as part of the US-Russia joint surveillance of any activity that might be related to the year 2000 computer glitch. They were picked up by the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad).

Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state, said the launches were not related to any Y2K problems.

"We have confirmed with the Defense Department that this incident was not Y2K related, that the missiles were not strategic but short-range - that is, under the 500 kilometer-range definition for strategic," he told reporters at Washington's Y2K command center.

Under a binational agreement setting up the joint monitoring, any launchings of 500 kilometres or more would be considered a "reportable event" with all details to be made public.

Joint monitoring

US and Russian military officers are jointly monitoring the two nations' nuclear missiles at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

"Everything has been quiet," Lt Colonel Greg Boyette of the US Air Force said.

The military personnel are sitting side by side at the Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability. Alongside them are translators.

On the wall are clocks that tell the time in such diverse places as the little island nation of Tonga in the Pacific to Moscow and Washington.

Pentagon officials in Washington are confident US military installations around the world will continue to operate normally, thanks to a $3.6 billion computer fix implemented over the past 18 months.

And the head of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces said the only missiles he expected to be launched into the sky are the fireworks he will shoot off in his yard with his children.

The Strategic Rocket Forces are part of Russia's armed forces and control land-based nuclear missiles.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
US military spokesman Major General Henry Raduege
"Missile incidents were not Y2K related"
The BBC's Rob Watson
"It may have looked briefly like a Dr Strangelove situation"
See also:

31 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
02 Dec 99 | Europe
30 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
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