US to test non-INF compliant missile set to counter Russia in Europe in coming weeks

US to test non-INF compliant missile set to counter Russia in Europe in coming weeks
  • Clock-gray 16:21
  • calendar-gray 02 August 2019

The US has been developing a new cruise missile with a conventional non-nuclear payload that operates in ranges previously banned by the INF Treaty, and is planning to test it in the coming weeks, a senior anonymous defence official told CNN, APA reports.

According to the source, the new missile will be the "Trump administration's answer to Russia's years-long" alleged non-compliance with the INF Treaty and is expected to help Washington counter Moscow in Europe.

The two states have long been accusing each other of violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with the US claiming that Russia has developed banned missiles, and Moscow pointing at Washington's use of drones and deployment of Tomahawk-capable launchers in Europe.

The missile will be used with a mobile launch system, which is in the initial stages of development, according to the anonymous official. The source noted though that so far there have been no formal programmes for the new armament's development, since the INF was still in force.

This can now emerge since the US announced its official withdrawal from the INF on 2 August, but the programme will depend on the upcoming test's results. The missile's fate is also dependent upon funding, which hasn't been secured yet due to opposition to it, coming from some Democrats in Congress.

Although the US sees the new cruise missile as a mean to counter Russia in Europe, it hasn't discussed its deployment with governments in the region, the source said. According to the anonymous official, Washington wishes to set up the new weapon in spots from which it could surpass Russian air defence systems and hit "the country's ports, military bases or critical infrastructure".

However, so far no European state has expressed a readiness to host the missiles, although the US earlier announced such plans. Both the US and NATO stated that they would refrain from deploying nuclear missiles in Europe though. Moscow has, notably, warned that such deployments will automatically lead to Russia targeting the US launch sites, threatening the country hosting the weapons.

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