The United States military is all set to test a ground-launched missile after the Trump administration ended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or the INF Treaty last month. The missile, which is believed to have a range of 1000 km (620 miles), would be tested in August.
February 1, Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty, sparking a six-month wait period before complete expiration of the treaty.
Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that they are ceasing the treaty and denied the accusations of defying the treaty. Russia also accused US of breaking the 1987 pact, allegations that US has denied.
A senior defense officer stated, “We’re going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August,” and if the testing is successful the missile could be stationed within 18 months. The official also stated that the US is also looking to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile in November and that both the missiles would not be nuclear, but conventional.
The INF Treaty, which was settled by then-US President Ronald Regan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ended the medium-range missile arsenals and lessen their potential to launch a nuclear strike at a short notice.
The INF Treaty required the parties to dismantle the ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of ranges between 500 to 5,500 miles.
The United Nations has also asked both the countries to save the treaty.
Kingston Reif, an analyst with the Arms Control Association, said the US’ move could be “a signal” to poke Russia to return to compliance with the treaty.
However, he thinks it could be possible that the Trump administration was simply arranging for an end of the INF treaty.
“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 President Vladimir Putin said Russia is militarily ready for a cold war crisis and threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near the US territorial waters.
Five decades later, tensions are rising again as the Russians fear that the US might station intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. However, the US has denied any plausibility saying that it has been thoroughly following the treaty.
“We haven’t engaged any of our allies about forward deployment. Honestly, we haven’t been thinking about this because we have been scrupulously abiding by the treaty,” the US defense official said.
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