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US denies starting design work on ground-launched cruise missiles before quitting INF

Spokesman for US Department of Defense Robert Carver said that "development of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile system is in the early stages of testing"

WASHINGTON, August 20. /TASS/. Washington dismisses Russia’s accusations that the US had started developing ground-launched cruise missile systems long before the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Department of Defense Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver told TASS on Tuesday.

"That would not be accurate," he replied when asked to comment on a statement by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov who said the test of an advanced Tomahawk-type missile was "an explicit confirmation of the fact that the United States has been developing such systems for a long time."

"The United States suspended its obligations under INF in February of 2019 and formally withdrew from the treaty on August 2. Following the US suspension of its treaty obligations, DOD began conceptual design activities on ground-launched cruise missile and ballistic missile systems," Carver said.

"Development of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile system is in the early stages of testing. It will take years to reach an initial operating capability," he noted.

"The US said it intended to engage in research, development and testing of conventional ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems," he added.

On Monday, the Pentagon reported that the United States had tested a land-based cruise missile capable of hitting its target after flying more than 500 kilometers for the first time after Washington’s exit from the INF Treaty.

Washington has repeatedly stated that it could conduct a flight test of a land-based cruise missile in late August. In mid-March, Pentagon officials explained that the issue at hand was the test of a Tomahawk missile at a range of about 1,000 kilometers.

In addition, the US Defense Department plans to test an intermediate-range land-based ballistic missile in November. According to the Pentagon, a completely new missile similar to the Pershing 2 will be tested. The US’ Pershing-II missiles were destroyed under the INF Treaty by 1991.

A missile test carried out by the United States points to Washington’s pre-planned strategy to enable the collapse of the INF Treaty, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.