Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:00 am
US planning on testing missiles
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is gearing up to test missiles banned by a Cold War-era arms control pact with Russia that is set to end formally this summer after President Donald Trump's withdrawal over Russian violations.
The U.S. military plans to test a ground-launch cruise missile in August and a midrange ballistic missile in November, according to senior U.S. defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters.
The testing, production and deployment of missiles with those ranges is prohibited by the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF Treaty. But Trump withdrew from the treaty on Feb. 1 and triggered a formal six-month wait period before the final expiry of the agreement this summer. Washington and Moscow will then be free to test, produce and deploy the intermediate-range missiles that both countries had agreed to ban for more than three decades. Research and development of the banned missiles isn't prohibited by the treaty.
Russia suspended its participation in the treaty after Trump's withdrawal. Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to design new weapons banned under the pact but said he would deploy them only if the United States does.