US looks to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

US,missiles,military

President Donald Trump said Washington intends to withdraw completely from the landmark treaty in six months, accusing Russian Federation of repeatedly violating the 30-year-old pact.

In August, the Pentagon intends to test a cruise missile with a range of about 1,000 km, capable of flying at a low altitude.

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. Neither would be nuclear armed, the officials said, though with no treaty to abide by, there would be little holding them back from embracing a return to a Cold War-style arms race.

The United States is mulling starting testing later this year types of missiles that were banned by a decades-old nuclear treaty, USA media reported on Wednesday.

"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.

In an earlier statement in February, US President Donald Trump announced that Washington would be suspending its obligations under the provisions of the INF Treaty starting on 2 February.

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.

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The officials, who spoke to a small group of reporters under Pentagon ground rules that did not permit use of their names or titles, said one project is a low-flying cruise missile with a potential range of about 1,000 kilometers; the other would be a ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers. 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 contract, from U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and announced on Wednesday, is valued at $250 million.

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.

The United Nations has also asked both the countries to save the treaty. "We need high-precision missiles and we are not going to repeat the mistakes of the Budapest memorandum", he added in a reference to the 1994 agreement which led to Ukraine dismantling its large Soviet-era nuclear arsenal.

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.

But he thought it was more likely that the Trump administration was simply planning for the treaty's demise. Moscow denies flouting the accord and has accused Washington of breaking the accord itself, allegations rejected by the United States.

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