The United States will accelerate its development of new cruise and ballistic missile systems now that it has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Pentagon says.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday announced the US withdrawal from the Cold War-era treaty, blaming Russia for its “demise.”
NATO also blamed Russia for the collapse of the treaty and vowed to respond in a “measured and responsible way” to Moscow’s deployment of a cruise missile.
Shortly after the announcement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US had already started work to develop “mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.”
“The Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions.”
Esper went on to say that Washington would cooperate with its allies in “implementing the National Defense Strategy, protecting our national defense and building partner capacity.”
Following the US announcement, Moscow also declared the formal end of the arms control treaty.
The US was scheduled to leave the treaty on August 2, a deadline set by President Donald Trump in February.
Washington had said Moscow’s failure to comply with the treaty was the main reason behind its pullout decision. Russia, however, says it has not breached the accord and believes the US planned to abandon the deal as part of its plan to develop its own sophisticated missiles.
According to reports, Washington sees a benefit in developing new weapons as part of its new policy to confront both China and Russia.
Last month, Esper said abandoning the treaty would free up the US military “to deal with not just Russia, but China.”
Other US officials, however, have warned the decision would jeopardize the country’s future missile testing and research programs as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will not provide adequate funding.