United States plans to test ground-launched cruise missile in August

Leroy Wright
March 16, 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.

Hodges' comments came amid media reports that the United States plans to test two missile systems banned under the INF Treaty, and that a new cruise missile is scheduled to be tested in August, while a longer-range ballistic missile will be test-launched in November.

However, the future of New Start seems bleak, with experts viewing the possibility of the agreement being abandoned by its signatories as a real threat, especially since the United States and Russian Federation have already pulled out of the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty.

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the U.S. Senate, eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russian Federation returns to "real and verifiable" compliance, he said.

Under the INF treaty, all missiles with range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers are banned.

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

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"We're going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August", said a senior defense official, who declined to be named.

This week, the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference took place in Washington DC. Trump said during the event the U.S.is 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.

The defense officials told reporters that allies in Europe and Asia had not yet been consulted about the planned missile tests or if they would be deployed on their territory.

The United Nations has also asked both the countries to save the treaty.

By moving forward with these missile projects, the Pentagon is not excluding the possibility that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty could still survive, although it likely will be terminated in August. It would not be ready for deployment for at least five years. Russian Federation also accused USA of breaking the 1987 pact, allegations that U.S. has denied. NATO is now studying the implications of the demise of the INF treaty and possible military responses.

Kingston Reif, an analyst with the Arms Control Association, a non-profit group that seeks to promote public understanding of and support for arms control, said the US move could be "a signal" to nudge Russian Federation to return to compliance with the treaty.

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