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Russia Demonstrates Avangard Hypersonic Vehicle for U.S.

Nov. 27, 2019 (EIRNS)—Russia has demonstrated the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle to the U.S., the Russian Defense Ministry announced yesterday. “Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), a U.S. inspection group was shown the Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle on the territory of Russia on Nov. 24-26, 2019,” the ministry said in a statement, reported TASS. This was done under provisions of New START which requires inspection of any new system put into service that has implications for the limits imposed by the treaty on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles. In this case, the Avangard is being installed on two UR-100N UTTKh ICBMs (NATO SS-19) which are to go on “experimental” combat duty in December.

The Russians are freely acknowledging that because the Avangard is being installed on ICBMs it comes under the jurisdiction of the New START treaty. The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick reported in a Nov. 26 article, however, that the U.S. is complaining that the Russians still see the Burevestnik nuclear-powered/nuclear-armed cruise missile, and the Poseidon nuclear-powered/nuclear-armed long-range torpedo as exempt. Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told TASS that Russian President Vladimir Putin should now move towards discussing how these other strategic systems fit into the arms control architecture and “invite the United States to work with Russia to clarify how the U.S. has converted nuclear launchers to conventional launchers to comply with the treaty.”

Viktor Yesin, a former commander of the Strategic Missile Forces and a frequent commentator on related matters, told TASS that the demonstration of the Avangard to the U.S. under the terms of the treaty may stir the United States into extending the New START agreement. “Ahead of the deployment of the new missile system in December, the missile to be deployed is demonstrated to the other party. It is a standard procedure envisaged by the treaty. Obviously, it should give the Americans an extra stimulus to extend the treaty,” he said, adding that this way the Russian side is demonstrating its strict compliance with the treaty’s provisions and is ready to show even its newest weapons as required by the New START.

According to the TASS press review of this morning, Vedomosti writes that if the U.S. administration allows the treaty to expire, such inspections will no longer be possible.

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