Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

US Plans First Tests of New Short and Intermediate-Range Missiles

US Plans First Tests of New Short and Intermediate-Range Missiles

February 1, Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty, sparking a six-month wait period before complete expiration of the treaty.

Pentagon officials outlined a plan to produce a low-flying cruise missile with a potential range of around 1,000km and a ballistic missile capable of traveling 3,000 to 4,000km.

The same official said the Pentagon was also tentatively planning in November to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The U.S. cruise missile is likely to be flight-tested in August, one official said, adding that it might be ready for deployment within 18 months. But Trump withdrew from the treaty on February 1 and triggered a formal six-month wait period before the final expiry of the agreement this summer.

The Pentagon plans to test two types of missiles banned for over 30 years under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty - reinforcing suspicions it has been preparing for this for years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed a decree earlier this month suspending Russia's compliance with the INF Treaty with immediate effect.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to design new weapons banned under the pact but said he would deploy them only if the USA does.

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This week, the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference took place in Washington DC.

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.

The contract, from U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and announced on Wednesday, is valued at $250 million.

The defense officials said US allies in Europe and Asia have not yet been consulted about deploying either new missile on their territory.

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's a brand new missile", the senior defense official said. "On the contrary, we demonstrated to all, using arguments and proof, that it is precisely the United States that became the source of dismantling this document since it in fact made breaches (of this treaty)", the Kremlin spokesman said. Washington on many occasions had accused Russian Federation of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington's non-compliance.

However, he thinks it could be possible that the Trump administration was simply arranging for an end of the INF treaty.

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