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U.S. Has Begun Work on Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles Which Violate the INF Treaty

Nov. 17, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Pentagon is already laying the basis for the development of a ground-based missile that would be in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The U.S. military’s preliminary research and development, previously undisclosed, is aimed at potentially reviving an arsenal of prohibited ground-based, intermediate-range missiles if Moscow "continues violating" the pact, unnamed officials told the Journal. This seems to suggest that the program has already been underway for some time, although the conference report on the defense authorization bill only passed this week.

The United States told Russia of its research project in recent weeks, according to these U.S. officials, but said the United States is ready to abandon it if Russia returns to compliance. "The idea here is we need to send a message to the Russians that they will pay a military price for violation of this treaty," one U.S. official said. "We are posturing ourselves to live in a post-INF world if that is the world the Russians want." Russia has fully rejected the accusation that they have violated the INF treaty.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization bill, now headed to the desk of President Trump, includes $58 million for a number of measures to "counter" Russia’s supposed violations of the INF Treaty, including to initiate a program of record for the development of a new ground-launched cruise missile with a range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers, the range prohibited by the INF Treaty. This is justified by the finding that "the actions undertaken by the Russian Federation in violation of the INF Treaty constitute a material breach of the treaty," which requires the United States to respond.