US looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

Sergio Conner
March 16, 2019

The reports came after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in early March on the suspension of the implementation of the INF Treaty between Moscow and Washington "until the United States rectifies violations of its commitments under the said Treaty or until its termination".

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 new cruise missile is supposed to have a range of 1,000 kilometers, while the ballistic missile will have a range of 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers, the officials said.

Signed in 1987 by then US President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control. "If Russia and the U.S. were to reach a deal to rescue the INF treaty before August, these projects would not go forward", the news agency said. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally began the treaty-sanctioned six-month withdrawal period of February 2.

The remarks come after the Hill reported on Wednesday that the United States 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.

"I think this particular White House and this particular national security adviser (John Bolton) are intent on the treaty coming to an end, so they have designs on a post-INF world in which the fielding of these capabilities is no longer prohibited either in Europe or in the Asia-Pacific", Reif said.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to design new weapons banned under the pact but said he would deploy them only if the United States does. The official said that could take place within 18 months.

"We haven't engaged any of our allies about formal deployment", the senior official said.

The United States deployed a mobile ground-launch cruise missile known as the BGM-109G Gryphon in Europe during the Cold War, but the Pentagon withdrew the weapon as a result of the INF Treaty's restrictions. "It is the U.S. that included a provision on R&D on these missiles in the draft budget", the Kremlin spokesman said, TASS reported.

By moving forward with these missile projects, the Pentagon is not excluding the possibility that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty could still survive, although it likely will be terminated in August. 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". NATO is now studying the implications of the demise of the INF treaty and possible military responses. Russian Federation also accused USA of breaking the 1987 pact, allegations that U.S. has denied.

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