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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday tested a conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile, a test that would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
Watch the US fire off its first previously-banned missile since the collapse of the INF Treaty with Russia
The U.S. military conducted its first flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile in a test that would have been banned prior to the recent collapse of a Cold War-era nuclear arms agreement.
The missile was launched on Sunday from a testing site on San Nicolas Island in California. "The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight," the Pentagon explained in an emailed statement, adding that "data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities."
SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. intermediate-range missiles will not be deployed in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the United States revealed ambitions to site missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.
Officials from both governments held talks in Sydney over the weekend that ended with a joint statement in which the two allies pledged to strengthen opposition to Chinese activities in Asia-Pacific, as both sides have become increasingly concerned about China's spreading influence.
Free from the INF Treaty, Esper says he wants to deploy new missiles to Asia 'sooner rather than later'
The U.S. is hoping to deploy new ground-based intermediate-range missiles to Asia "sooner rather than later," U.S. defense chief Mark Esper said of a move that could have huge ramifications for regional security.
Esper's remarks were likely to raise already-soaring tensions with Beijing and add to fears of a new arms race involving the U.S., China and Russia.
"Yes I would like to," Esper said late Saturday when asked if the United States was considering deploying new medium-range conventional weapons in Asia now that Washington is no longer bound by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the U.S. formally withdrew from a day earlier.
U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that Russia has been secretly conducting low-yield nuclear weapons tests in violation of an international treaty prohibiting this type of testing.
"The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the 'zero-yield' standard," Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley wrote in his prepared remarks for a talk at the Hudson Institute Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the other intelligence agencies have arrived at similar conclusions as DIA.
The Pentagon reportedly plans to restart the manufacturing process for once-banned ground-launched cruise missiles as a Cold War-era arms agreement with Russia crumbles, Aviation Week reports.