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USA to test missiles banned under faltering nuclear pact with Russian Federation

16 March 2019

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

The Pentagon plans to begin flight tests this year of two types of missiles that have been banned for more than 30 years by a treaty from which both the United States and Russian Federation are expected to withdraw in August, defense officials said Wednesday.

USA officials say the Trump administration has no plans to seek the forward deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe once again, but the breakdown of the treaty threatens a return to an era in which Europeans anxious about Russian nuclear missiles that could strike their cities within a few minutes of launching.

Signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control. Then some story was created that we allegedly have a type of missile that goes beyond the INF Treaty.

The DoD has reported that this contract provides for aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, engineering, testing, software development, training, facilities, and support necessary to fully integrate the Long Range Stand-Off Cruise Missile (LRSO) on the B-52H bomber platform.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier said Ukraine was no more bound by any restrictions regarding the missile range after Russia's withdrawal from the INF Treaty.

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

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"We're going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August", a senior defense official, who declined to be named, was quoted by Reuters as saying on March 13. The tests are expected to take place at or after August. The U.S. military could keep it in its arsenal at home for possible deployment if a situation warranted.

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

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.

Hodges did not elaborate on how the treaty could be replaced but noted that in any case, "transparency and a clear protocol on compliance with observers" should be a bottom line of the issue of arms control.

The United Nations has also asked both the countries to save the treaty. "It is the USA that included a provision on R&D on these missiles in the draft budget", the Kremlin spokesman said, TASS reported. 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.

But he thought it was more likely that the Trump administration was simply planning for the treaty's demise.

USA to test missiles banned under faltering nuclear pact with Russian Federation