Pentagon Planning to Test Long-Banned Missiles After INF Pullout

Pentagon eager to test banned missiles after discarding Cold War-era nuke treaty

The remarks come after the Hill reported on Wednesday that the USA plans to test two missile systems banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the U.S. announced its decision to withdraw from later this year. This corresponds to Pentagon's earlier statement, in which the Department said its missile efforts are "conventional only - not nuclear".

The U.S. cruise missile to be tested in August will have a range of 1,000 kilometers, Reuters quoted a Pentagon official as saying.

The testing, production and deployment of missiles with those ranges is prohibited by the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

In 2010, a successor treaty called New START was signed by the United States and Russian Federation.

When he announced on February 1 that the USA would pull the plug on the INF treaty, President Donald Trump said his administration would "move forward" with developing a military response to Russia's alleged violations.

However, the two sides have been accusing each other of violating the arms control agreement amid increasing tensions in recent years. Russian Federation has denied that the missile-known as the SSC-8 SCREWDRIVER or the 9M729-violates the treaty and has instead alleged that USA ground-based missile defense interceptor launchers and armed drones violate the treaty.

The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the USA in 1987, and provides for the elimination of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that operate at ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russian Federation returns to "real and verifiable" compliance, he said. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow's compliance with the Treaty on March 4.

Washington has not spoken to any European or Asian allies about the possibility of hosting the missile on their territory, according to the defense officials.

"We haven't engaged any of our allies about forward deployment", the USA defense official said. It may be tested as soon as November 2019, but would likely not see deployment for five years after that. The alliance also needs to develop a post-INF arms control strategy because "if the United States tries to bully North Atlantic Treaty Organisation into accepting deployment of such missiles, it is going to provoke a destabilizing action-reaction cycle and missile race". "It is the USA that included a provision on R&D on these missiles in the draft budget", the Kremlin spokesman said, TASS reported. Russian Federation denied the allegations and accused the United States of violating the pact through its missile defense installations in Europe - accusations the State Department refuted.

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