USA looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

David B. Gleason

The United States on February 2 launched the six-month process of leaving the INF Treaty after Washington and NATO repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the accord by developing the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8.

The projects expected to be launched include a low-flying cruise missile with a potential range of about 1,000 km and a ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000-4,000 km, reported US media citing anonymous Pentagon officials.

The Russian envoy to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, has on Wednesday said Washington is not likely to compromise over the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.

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

Russia, which denies the accusation, said it was also withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which banned both countries from developing, producing, and deploying ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. 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.

"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.

Russian Federation suspended its participation in the treaty after Trump's withdrawal.

"We're going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August", senior defense official told Reuters today.

Arms control advocates and Democrats in Congress have questioned the wisdom of leaving the INF treaty, while accepting USA allegations that Russian Federation is violating it by deploying a cruise missile that can target American allies in Europe. The U.S. military could keep it in its arsenal at home for possible deployment if a situation warranted.

The United States used systems that "de facto were in violation of the basic provisions of the INF Treaty", Peskov stressed. 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".

German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said, in turn, that he does not rule out a new arms race in the event of the termination of the agreement. 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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