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US tests cruise missile after leaving INF Treaty

Pentagon says data from test to aid development of 'future intermediate-range capabilities'

Umar Farooq   | 20.08.2019
US tests cruise missile after leaving INF Treaty

WASHINGTON 

The U.S. has conducted a flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile, the Defense Department said Monday.

The Pentagon successfully carried out the test at San Nicolas Island, California, the department said in a statement.

The missile was launched Sunday at 2:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time (2130 GMT) and comes shortly after Washington left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this month.

Under the treaty, such missile launches were banned.

"The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of flight," the statement said.

"Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," it added.

The INF Treaty had been widely seen as a cornerstone of European security in the post-Cold War era after the U.S. and Soviet Union signed it in 1987. It prohibited both sides from possessing and testing land-based missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310-3,417 miles).

President Donald Trump announced last October that the U.S. would exit from the pact, accusing Moscow of violating it.

The U.S. withdrawal began in February, initiating a six-month deadline for the parties to return to the agreement.

A day after the U.S. formally announced its withdrawal from the treaty, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Washington wants to deploy an intermediate-range conventional missile in the Pacific region.

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