On Friday, Russia test fired a banned cruise missile, triggering a response from the Trump Administration. Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) vowed harsh trade restriction targeted at harming the economic interests of Putin’s top lieutenants within the Russian government.
The decision to levy new sactions came right after an extremely long, detailed and intensive review from the National Security Council (NSC) with the aim of referring to the seriousness of the treaty to Russia by working to “change the economic calculus” of the Putin’s government, an administration official said. These sanctions also involve the Department of Commerce punishing the Russian companies for helping in the development of the missile, which is in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces – INF Treaty.
The treaty had banned Russian missiles which are capable of traveling 500 to 5,000 kilometers from being launched near the borders of Europe. At this distance, these weapons would provide little or no notice in the case of an attack, and these missiles are fully capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The NSC determined that it is still in America’s interest to follow through with the treaty and have the Department of Defense (DOD) begin proper research and development on the U.S. version of the missile that the administration official says would not be violating any of the accords.
The Trump administration also reported that the Novator 9M729 missile was deployed in February; designated the SSC-8 by NATO.
The Obama administration had accused Russia in 2014 of violating the treaty that the President – Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had signed in 1987. Russia has both denied that it has violated the treaty and also accused the U.S. government of violating it with its missile interceptors, which the U.S. maintains and does not violate the treaty.
The latest research from the DOD would allow evaluating the design options for a new ground-launched nuclear cruise missile, which is allowed under the INF Treaty, the official said to the new source.
Executive director Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association has expressed serious concerns with the DOD going forward with all the designs for the new U.S. missile.
“The INF Treaty does not prohibit research or development, but going down this road sets the stage for Washington to violate the agreement at some point and it takes the focus off of Russia’s INF violation,” Kimball had said in a statement. “Rather than persuading Russia to return to compliance, this action is more likely to give Moscow an excuse to continue on its current course.”
“Both sides must recommit to resolve this issue and use the existing treaty compliance resolution mechanism, the SVC, to evaluate competing technical claims and ultimately to remove from deployment any INF systems in Russia that do not comply with the treaty,” Kimball added.