UPDATED 9:07 AM PT — Thursday, March 14, 2019
The U.S. military is planning to test a ground-launched cruise missile, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear treaty with Russia.
Citing officials from the Pentagon on Wednesday, new reports are claiming the missile testing could start in August. Officials said the missile is not nuclear, but it does have a range of over 600 miles. This exceeds the limits the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) places on ground-launched missiles.
Last month, President Trump said he would pull out of the 1987 agreement within six-months if Russia continued to violate the terms of the treaty.
“I hope that we are able to get everybody in a big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better, cause certainly I would like to see that, but you have to have everybody adhere to it and you have a certain side that almost pretends it doesn’t exist,” stated the president.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied accusations of breaking the agreement. Instead, they are claiming the U.S. is the one in violation of the accord.
Russia suspended its side of the long-standing agreement last week as it reportedly continues to develop missile capabilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement last month, claiming if the U.S. were to deploy missiles in Europe then Russia would be forced to respond swiftly.
“Russia will be forced to create and develop weapons, which can be used not only towards those territories that from which direct threats may be directed at us, but also towards those territories where centers of decision making in employing rocket systems that are threatening to us,” stated the Russian president.
While no current plans have been announced for the U.S. to deploy missiles in Europe, President Trump has said the U.S. would not back down from developing a military response to counter Russia’s actions.
The U.S. military plans to roll out the missile for deployment within 18-months if testing proves a success. There are also plans to test a second intermediate range missile in November.
With hopes for reconciliation of the INF Treaty quickly fleeting, only time will tell if a new Cold War -style nuclear arms race will soon emerge.