The US intends to start producing components for ground-based cruise missiles after it withdraws from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, announced US Defense Spokesperson Michelle Baldanza on Monday, 11 March.
Previously the US could not engage in such production due to its obligations under the INF Treaty, the Pentagon spokesperson added. She noted that the components will be produced as part of a research program, which could be canceled “if Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty’s requirements” before the US officially withdraws from the treaty in August.
Washington believes that Russia violated the INF Treaty by developing 9M729 missiles, which are capable of flying further than 500 km. The Russian military claims that the specific amount of fuel placed in the missiles ensures that they do not exceed the 500 km limit.
On 1 February, the US announced that it was suspending the INF Treaty for six months, since it believes that Russia’s 9M729 are in breach of the treaty’s terms. Washington has repeatedly demanded that Russia destroy the offending missiles.