After INF treaty's demise, U.S. seeks funds for missile tests

After INF treaty's demise, U.S. seeks funds for missile tests

The United States will no longer be prohibited from having ground-launched intermediate-range missiles once it pulls out of an arms control treaty with Russia on Friday, but funds to test and develop the missiles may soon run out, officials say, reports Trend referring to Reuters.

Washington said last year it would be withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Russia of failing to comply with it. Moscow denies it has violated the treaty and says Washington is pulling out because it wants to pursue a new arms race.

Within the next few weeks, the United States is expected to test a ground-launched cruise missile. In November, the Pentagon will aim to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Both would be conventional weapons tests - and not nuclear.

U.S. officials told Reuters this week that once existing funding runs out, future research and testing would be at risk because of resistance from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Unlike in the Senate, which is led by President Donald Trump’s Republicans, the House declined to fund the Trump administration’s request of about $96 million for the development of the missiles in its version of a fiscal-year 2020 budget and defense policy bill.

“If you cut this, you’re hampering the Department of Defense’s ability to respond to the Russian treaty violation,” said a senior U.S. defense official, describing the Pentagon’s message to Congress.

“It’s not going to bring the treaty back, it’s going to help Russia.”

The 1987 pact banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km).

Washington and Moscow blame each other for the breakdown of the treaty, the latest in a growing list of East-West tensions. The United States says it needs to develop its own intermediate-range missiles to deter Russia, even if it does not field them in Europe.

The Pentagon also sees a benefit in developing the new weapons as a counter to China, which boasts an increasingly sophisticated land-based missile force.

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