US military to test banned missiles

Pentagon eager to test banned missiles after discarding Cold War-era nuke treaty

The projects expected to be launched include a low-flying cruise missile with a potential range of about 1,000 km and a ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000-4,000 km, reported USA media citing anonymous Pentagon officials. It required both parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles).

The testing, production and deployment of missiles with those ranges is prohibited by the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF Treaty.

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 US officials say violates the treaty.

Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that they are ceasing the treaty and denied the accusations of defying the treaty.

Last month, the United States said it would withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what Washington says are violations of the 1987 pact.

Kyiv says the collapse of a landmark Cold War arms-control pact gives it a free hand to develop new ballistic missiles.

A new cruise missile is scheduled to be tested in August, while a longer-range ballistic missile will be tested later in November, unnamed defense officials told reporters.

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Neither of the two missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads, they said.

The contract, from U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and announced on Wednesday, is valued at $250 million. "Both of these missiles are conventional and not nuclear", the official added. If Russia and the USA were to reach a deal to rescue the INF treaty before August, these projects would not go forward.

The two countries were on the brink of a nuclear war in 1962, when Moscow responded to a United States missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow's compliance with the Treaty on March 4. NATO is now studying the implications of the demise of the INF treaty and possible military responses.

Russian Federation repeatedly denied the allegations that the missile violates the 1987 treaty, pointing out that American missile defense systems deployed in Europe can be repurposed for offensive and therefore are themselves in violation of the treaty.

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.

In 2010, a successor treaty called New START was signed by the United States and Russian Federation. "Instead of punishing the Russians, the administration has announced it would sink to the level of the Russians".

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