MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia successfully test-fired a large long-range missile Friday whose future as a mainstay of its nuclear arsenal has been clouded by past failures.
The military said the 12-meter (40-foot) long, multiple-warhead Bulava missile -- Russian for 'Mace' -- was fired from the atomic-powered submarine Yuri Dolgoruky in the White Sea in northwestern Russia.
Its warheads hit the target area on the Kamchatka peninsula some 6,000 km (3,700 miles) to the east, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
"The flight went according to plan and the warheads reached the testing ground at the appropriate time," he said on state-run Rossiya 24 television.
It was the third successful test launch this year of the Bulava, which failed in seven of its previous 14 tests, raising doubts about plans to use it as the cornerstone of Russia's nuclear deterrent for the next three decades.
One Bulava can hold six to 10 nuclear warheads, enough to deliver an impact up to 100 times the power of the atomic blast that devastated Hiroshima in 1945. Russia hopes to put the missile into service by next year.
Russia agreed to new limits on long-range nuclear arms in the 2009 New START treaty with the United States, but has emphasized they will remain a crucial element of its defenses and signaled further cuts will be tough to achieve.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Edited by Richard Meares)