U.S. Tests Missile Banned for Decades, Ignoring Warnings from Russian Federation

Cheryl Sanders
August 20, 2019

The Department of Defense on August 18 test-fired a conventional ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California, the agency said in a statement.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it had tested a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles), the first such test since the United States pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). A ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers (1,860 to 2,490 miles) could take five years or more to deploy.

The US tested a cruise missile that would have exceeded the limits of the INF treaty.

"We, of course, will do our best in the shortest period of time to ensure that the United States does not have a superiority in these types of weapons", he said, adding that Russian Federation did not intend to enter into an arms race.

The United States said Russian Federation had developed and tested the 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8.

American officials have stressed they do not plan on building a nuclear ground-based cruise missile capability, but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said his department will "fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia's actions and as part of the joint force's broader portfolio of conventional strike options".

Moscow has both denied the allegation and asserted that US missile-defense systems in Eastern Europe violated the treaty - a claim rejected by Washington. The U.S. has air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, so, developing a ground launched version was a fairly straightforward process.

Prior to the test, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told television station Rossiya-24 that Moscow was "keeping the door open" for talks on missiles once outlawed by the INF, reiterating the stance that "as long as the USA doesn't deploy such systems to Europe, we won't do the same, and as long as there are no United States missiles in Asia, there won't be our missiles in the region".

Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment on the USA launch. With the signing of the treaty, those missiles were withdrawn and destroyed.

The missile was launched on Sunday from the US Navy-controlled San Nicolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles, California.

In it's 2020 budget request, the Pentagon asked for $96 million to continue research and begin testing ground-launched missiles that break the INF's previously restrictive bounds. The Pentagon said that during the test, it collected data that will inform its development of future intermediate-range missile capabilities.

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