Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United States plans to test missiles banned by INF Treaty in 2019

United States plans to test missiles banned by INF Treaty in 2019

U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Treaty due to Russia's violation on February 1.

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.

The new ballistic missile-a conventional intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)-may see deployment on the USA territory of Guam.

Signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control.

Both the missiles would be conventional and not nuclear, the official said.

The INF treaty was an arms control landmark in the final years of the Cold War, but it began unraveling several years ago when Washington accused Russian Federation of developing, testing and, more recently, deploying a cruise missile that USA officials say violates the treaty.

Research and development of the banned missiles however, isn't prohibited by the treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to design new weapons banned under the pact but said he would deploy them only if the U.S. does. 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 tests are expected to take place at or after August. 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.

Washington has not spoken to any European or Asian allies about the possibility of hosting the missile on their territory, according to the defense officials. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). It would not be ready for deployment for at least five years. "On the contrary, we demonstrated to all, using arguments and proof, that it is precisely the United States that became the source of dismantling this document since it in fact made breaches (of this treaty)", the Kremlin spokesman said.

However, he thinks it could be possible that the Trump administration was simply arranging for an end of the INF treaty.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied the allegations that the missile violates the treaty, pointing out that American missile defence systems deployed in Europe can be re-purposed for offensive use and therefore are themselves violating the accord. "If the Russians come back in, in August we wouldn't do the test", the official said.

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