Published: Wed, August 21, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

After Exiting Arms Control Treaty, U.S. Tests New Ground-Based Cruise Missile

After Exiting Arms Control Treaty, U.S. Tests New Ground-Based Cruise Missile

The Pentagon says the U.S. military has conducted a flight test of a type of missile banned for more than 30 years by a treaty that both the United States and Russian Federation abandoned this month.

On Monday, the Pentagon reported that the United States had tested a land-based cruise missile capable of hitting its target after flying more than 500 kilometers for the first time after Washington's exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Reacting to the missile test, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that the United States had "set a course for mounting military tensions" and described the move as "regrettable". The minister stressed that Moscow would stick to a unilateral moratorium on such missile systems and did not plan to deploy them "as long as the USA does not deploy them anywhere in the world".

Russian Federation accused the United States of escalating military tensions today after the Pentagon conducted its first test of a missile which has been banned for more than 30 years.

It added that it was the first of such operation since the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact this month. The U.S. maintained that Russian Federation has been in repeated violation of the pact, which banned all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 and 3,410 miles).

Moscow has both denied the allegation and asserted that US missile-defense systems in Eastern Europe violated the treaty - a claim rejected by Washington.

The INF Treaty was created in 1987 and banned all types of missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers (3,410 miles).

But Malcolm Davis, a senior defense analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank in Canberra, said the launch from an MK 41 "implies it could be adapted to Aegis Ashore", while also noting that if the USA were to do that, "there would be political implications ... and it would tend to confirm Russia's narrative that the US was secretly violating INF".

When he announced the United States withdrawal, Trump said he'd spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping about a potential deal involving all three nations.

Many fear the end of the INF, which Washington accused Moscow of having violated in recent years, will lead to a new and unsafe nuclear arms race.

Moscow and Washington have long criticised the treaty but Putin said it was the USA that made the decision to "unilaterally" withdraw.

As Russia faced sanctions over its alleged roles in the poisoning of an ex-double agent in the United Kingdom and the war in Ukraine and President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged in a costly trade war, the U.S.' top military rival and leading economic competitor have only expanded their relations. Some experts believe the treaty's collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed up an erosion of the global system created to block the spread of nuclear arms. "We are now evaluating the results of the test", Lt. Col. Carla Gleason told CNN.

Some military experts said that new missile is a Tomahawk that launched from the standardized vertical-launch cells used in the Aegis Ashore system.

The test occurred 2:30 PM Pacific time Sunday at San Nicolas Island, Calif., according to a Pentagon announcement.

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