MOSCOW - RUSSIA on Friday successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Bulava intercontinental missile, the defence ministry said.

The launch is the second successful firing this month after a string of embarrassing failures brought the programme to a halt for 10 months.

'The parameters of the trajectory worked out as planned and the warheads successfully landed at the Kura firing area,' a defence ministry spokesman said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies. The missile was fired early morning from Dmitry Donskoy submarine in the White Sea in north-western Russia, and hit the Kura firing area on the Kamchatka peninsula on the Pacific Ocean, 6,000km away.

The launch confirmed that Bulava's many failures were most likely caused by 'assembly technology', said a source in the commission established to analyse the missile's production process and pinpoint what was causing it to fail.

Another launch, the 15th in all, is scheduled before the end of the year, the source said, Interfax reported. The Bulava, which can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads, has a maximum range of 8,000km.

The missile is designed for use with Russia's new Borei class of nuclear submarines like the Yury Dolgoruky and Alexander Nevsky. Analysts have said the vessels risk being worthless unless the Bulava works.

Russia test fires missile