Pentagon official: No plans to develop new missile system amid end of Russian arms treaty

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The head of Pentagon policy on Wednesday said the military is not yet planning to create or deploy an intermediate-range missile system in the light of the U.S. announcing it will no longer comply with a Soviet-era arms control pact with Russia.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said that because the U.S. has been in full compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty since it was signed in 1987, “we don’t have an intermediate range system or something like that that we would, that we’re talking about deploying at this time.”

“We’re going to look at our options in this regard,” Rood added.

{mosads}The Trump administration last week announced long-anticipated plans to stop complying with the INF Treaty, accusing Russia of violating the agreement for years.

Moscow has for years denied breaching the agreement, though officials from successive administrations have raised the issue in failed diplomatic talks.

The treaty, signed by then-President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, including those that can carry a nuclear warhead, with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The declaration kick-starts a six-month withdrawal period, during which Russia has a final chance to comply with the treaty by destroying the missiles that violate it and associated equipment.

But Moscow has indicated it will also abandon INF, with plans to develop two new land-based missile launch systems by 2021 in order to counter U.S. developments in its missile capabilities.

In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, President Trump countered that the United States “is developing a state of the art missile defense system,” and “will never apologize for advancing America’s interests.”

“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t. In which case we will outspend and out innovate all others, by far,” Trump added.

Rood, one of the leaders in creating the Trump administration’s newly released Missile Defense Review, said U.S. officials will discuss their defense options with allies at a NATO defense ministers meeting later this month in Brussels.

“We’re going to have to see how we adapt our defense posture in response to that new reality,” Rood said.

He added that Washington doesn’t “have any plans right now and aren’t contemplating a deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe or anything of that nature. That’s not what we’re thinking about right now.”

Tags Cruise missile Donald Trump INF Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Missile defense Soviet Union
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