US tests nuclear-capable ground-launched ballistic missile after INF treaty exit

The Pentagon said in a statement that the test took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the missile flew for more than 500 km. [USAF]

The Pentagon on Thursday (12 December) tested a conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile, a test that would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

It was the second test by the Pentagon that would have not been allowed under the INF treaty.

The treaty, negotiated by then-US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 km).

INF treaty end would give US, Russia impetus to make more nukes: study

The demise of the only US-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed nuclear weapons would make it harder for each to gauge the other’s intentions, giving both incentives to expand their arsenals, according to a study to be released on Monday (1 April).

The Pentagon said in a statement that the test took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the missile flew for more than 500 km.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the statement said.

In August, the Pentagon tested a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles).

Moscow denies flouting the accord and has accused Washington of breaking the pact, allegations rejected by the United States.

Russia displays controversial missile in bid to save INF treaty

Russia on Wednesday (23 January) unveiled a missile system that Washington claims is in violation of a key arms control treaty, in a last-minute bid to counter US criticism and save the Soviet-era agreement.

The dispute is aggravating the worst US-Russia friction since the Cold War ended in 1991. Some experts believe the treaty’s collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Washington this week and met President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Lavrov renewed Moscow’s offer to extend the US-Russia New START arms control treaty of 2011, while Trump and Pompeo stressed the need for a strategic dialogue that also included China.

Chizhov: Washington chose to act unilaterally to abrogate nuclear arms treaty

In a wide-ranging interview, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, speaks about nuclear arms control, the EU elections and top jobs, the situation in Ukraine, including the MH17, and America’s bid to challenge Russian gas.

That agreement requires both sides to cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 and expires in February 2021 but can be extended for up to five years.

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