Washington: The US military is readying to test missiles banned by a Cold War-era arms control pact with Moscow that is set to end formally this year after President Donald Trump withdrew from it over Russian violations.
The US military plans to test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of about 600 miles in August and a midrange ballistic missile with a range of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles in November, The Washington Post quoted senior defence officials as saying on Wednesday.
The testing, production and deployment of missiles with those ranges is prohibited by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Signed in 1987 by then US President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty was widely viewed as a breakthrough in arms control.
The pact banned all ground-launched missiles, both nuclear and non-nuclear, with ranges from 310 to 3,400 miles.
Trump withdrew from the treaty on February 1 and triggered a formal six-month wait period before the final expiry of the agreement.
Once it expires, Washington and Moscow will be free to test, produce and deploy the intermediate-range missiles that both countries have agreed to ban for more than three decades.
Research and development of the banned missiles, however, 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 US does.
Defence officials said the US ground-launched cruise missile is slated for testing in August, just after the treaty formally ends, The Washington Post said.
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.