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US looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

16 March 2019

Washington in the last month announced it will withdraw from the treaty in six months, unless Moscow ends its alleged violations.

Moscow announced on 4 March it would suspend compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in response to the same step by the United States.

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

Neither of the missiles will be nuclear-armed, the officials added.

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Following U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty later this year, the U.S. Department of Defense will begin testing new systems that would previously have been prohibited. He was not specific, but defense officials on Wednesday spelled out a plan for developing two non-INF compliant, non-nuclear missiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated Moscow's position on the INF, explaining that Russia was forced to suspend its participation in the Treaty in response to the United States actions "when we entered the phase of harsh disagreements with the Americans on the INF". 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.

Defence officials said the USA ground-launched cruise missile is slated for testing in August, just after the treaty formally ends, The Washington Post said. According to a senior defense official, it will essentially involve putting a Tomahawk missile in a container that could be placed on a ship or in a mobile launcher. The official said that could take place within 18 months.

The defense officials told reporters that allies in Europe and Asia have not yet been consulted about the planned missile tests or if they would be deployed on their territory. Trump said during the event the issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft "effective immediately", in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people.

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

The intermediate-range ballistic missile that the Pentagon is planning to test in November is a longer-term effort. "Think Pershing II. It's a missile of that class". Russian Federation also accused USA of breaking the 1987 pact, allegations that U.S. has denied.

Kingston Reif, an analyst with the Arms Control Association, a non-profit group that seeks to promote public understanding of and support for arms control, said the US move could be "a signal" to nudge Russian Federation to return to compliance with the treaty.

Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration urged Russian Federation to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty and end the production and deployment of its banned intermediate-range missile.

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US looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August