US to fully develop ground-launched missiles: Pentagon chief
Washington, Aug 3 (IANS) The US will fully develop ground-launched conventional missiles following the country's withdrawal from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said.
"Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defence will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles," Esper said on Friday, pointing to the move as a "prudent response to Russia's actions", reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the statement, the US already began research and development activities for the ground-launched missiles in 2017. The department's initial research and development efforts focused on mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.
To comply with the obligations of the INF Treaty, these programmes are in the early stages, the statement claimed.
Esper released the statement on the same day the US officially withdrew from the treaty.
Multiple US media reported that Washington was planning to test a new non-nuclear mobile-launched cruise missile in the coming weeks as a show of force against Moscow.
The collapse of the INF Treaty as well as confrontational actions have already triggered fear among analysts that a new round of arms race is looming.
The INF Treaty was signed by the erstwhile Soviet Union and the US in 1987.
Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the historic arms control deal amid increased tensions.