The United States is to accelerate its development of new cruise and ballistic missile systems following its withdrawal from a nuclear treaty with Russia, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Accusing Russia of “sustained and repeated violations” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. had already begun work to develop “mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.”
As the United States had “scrupulously complied” with its obligations to the 1987 treaty until its formal withdrawal, “these programs are in the early stages,” Esper said in a statement.
“Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions.
“The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies as we move forward in implementing the National Defense Strategy, protecting our national defense and building partner capacity,” he added.
Russia described the U.S. withdrawal as “a serious mistake.”
It’s defense ministry claimed that the main reason for the U.S. exit was the desire to get rid of the limits set by the treaty.
Russia’s development and fielding of a “treaty-violating missile system represents a direct threat to the United States and our allies and partners” and Russia’s noncompliance under the treaty “jeopardizes U.S. supreme interests,” Pompeo said.
The INF treaty had been widely seen as a cornerstone of European security in the post-Cold War era after the U.S. and Russia signed it in 1987. It prohibited both countries from possessing and testing ground launch missiles with a range between 300-3,100 miles.
Trump announced in October that the U.S. would exit from the pact, accusing Moscow of violating it.
The U.S. withdrawal began in February, starting a six-month deadline for the parties to return to the agreement.