US plans August test of long-banned type of missile

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

February 1, Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty, sparking a six-month wait period before complete expiration of the treaty.

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.

Moscow announced on 4 March it would suspend compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in response to the same step by the United States.

Signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russian Federation returns to "real and verifiable" compliance, he said.

The INF treaty prohibits ground-launched missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers.

The AP news agency reported on Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to hold tests this year of two types of missiles banned by the INF.

"The Russians have been violating the INF treaty for years but, instead of focusing world opinion against the Russians, the Trump administration chose to withdraw from the treaty", Rep. Adam Smith, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said recently.

The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the U.S. in 1987, and provides for the elimination of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that operate at ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

According to another senior defence official, it will essentially involve putting a Tomahawk missile in a container that could be placed on a ship or in a mobile launcher.

Arms control advocates and Democrats in Congress have questioned the wisdom of leaving the INF treaty, while accepting US allegations that Russian Federation is violating it by deploying a cruise missile that can target American allies in Europe. 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.

"We haven't engaged any of our allies about forward deployment".

The United Nations has also asked both the countries to save the treaty. The ballistic missile, however, is likely to take longer. The missile is unlikely to be deployed sooner than in five years, the news agency said.

However, he thinks it could be possible that the Trump administration was simply arranging for an end of the INF treaty.

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 USA move could be "a signal" to nudge Russian Federation to return to compliance with the treaty. Russian Federation denied the allegations and accused the United States of violating the pact through its missile defense installations in Europe - accusations the State Department refuted.

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