The Pentagon will start work on making parts for ground-launched cruise missile systems that would fall within the limits of a treaty President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE suspended compliance with last month, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The Pentagon “will commence fabrication activities on components to support developmental testing of these systems - activities that until February 2 would have been inconsistent with our obligations under the treaty,” Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said in a statement.
Trump announced last month he was suspending U.S. obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and starting the six-month process to officially withdraw from the pact.
The 1987 accord bans the United States and Russia from having nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.
The United States has accused Russia of violating the treaty for years with its 9M729 cruise missile.
Russia denies that it is in violation of the treaty and says instead that it is the United States that violated it with a missile defense system in Europe. The U.S. holds the system is purely defensive, and so complies with the agreement.
The Pentagon first began research and development on a missile that would fall within the INF Treaty in 2017. But up until now, it has stressed that the research and development itself was in compliance with the treaty
“Because the United States has scrupulously complied with its obligations with the INF Treaty, these programs are in the early stages,” Baldanza said Monday.
Baldanza also stressed that the efforts are “conventional only — not nuclear.”
She further indicated the United States is still looking for Russia to come back into compliance with the treaty, saying the Pentagon’s work is reversible should that happen before the United States’s deadline to withdraw.
“This research and development is designed to be reversible, should Russia return to full and verifiable compliance before we withdraw from the treaty in August 2019,” Baldanza said.