WASHINGTON, November 27. /TASS/. Russia’s Avangard hypersonic missile demonstration to US specialists could be part of the process to include it in the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty), former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction Gary Samore told TASS on Wednesday.
The US expert thus commented on the report by Russia’s Defense Ministry that Russia had demonstrated its latest Avangard hypersonic missile system to the United States.
"The Avangard hypersonic warhead is launched by a traditional ballistic missile so it will count as a ‘strategic delivery system’ under the New START Treaty. So I assume that demonstration of the Avangard is part of process for including it in the New START treaty as long as the treaty remains in force," the US expert stressed.
The American expert is currently working at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and heads one of the research institutes of Brandeis University.
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday that it had demonstrated the latest Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle to the United States.
"Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, a US inspection group was shown the Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle on the territory of Russia on November 24-26, 2019," the ministry said.
Russia demonstrated its latest weapon for the purpose of keeping the New START Treaty viable and effective, the ministry added.
Neither the Pentagon nor the US Department of State responded to a request from TASS to comment on the Avangard hypersonic missile’s demonstration to US specialists.
Avangard hypersonic system
The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. According to open sources, the breakthrough weapon was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov, the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. The boost-glide vehicle is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.
The new weapon was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1 last year. The Russian leader said at a board meeting of the Defense Ministry in late 2018 that Russia had launched the serial production of Avangard hypersonic missile systems. Putin said at the time that the Avangard, along with Sarmat missiles, Kinzhal and Peresvet missile systems, would multiply boost the potential of the Army and the Navy to reliably ensure Russia’s security for decades to come.
New START Treaty
The New START Treaty, which was signed by Moscow and Washington in 2010, stipulates that seven years after it goes into effect, each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed missile launchers.
The document is set to remain in effect until February 5, 2021, unless it is replaced with another agreement on nuclear arms reduction. It can also be extended for no more than five years (until 2026) with the consent of both parties.
Moscow calls on Washington not to delay solving the issue on a possible extension of the treaty, which it has described as "a golden standard" in disarmament. Responding to a question from TASS on November 4, US President Donald Trump said that the United States would like to conclude a new arms control treaty with Russia, China and, possibly, several more states. Trump did not reply, however, to an additional question about whether the United States would like to extend the New START Treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said in an interview with The Financial Times that if this treaty ceased to exist there would be no other tools in the world containing the arms race.