WASHINGTON, November 26. /TASS/. Demonstration of Russia’s breakthrough Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle to American specialists was quite an expected thing, Executive Director of the United States’ Arms Control Association (ACA) Daryl Kimball told TASS on Tuesday.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier that the latest Avangard missile system had been demonstrated to a US inspection group. According to the ministry, it was done for the purpose of keeping the New START Treaty viable and effective.
"As expected and required by the 2010 New START agreement, Russia has demonstrated its new hypersonic weapon that is to be deployed on a long-range ballistic missile," Kimball said.
"If Russia actually seeks to achieve the extension of the New START agreement by five years and to avoid a more dangerous arms race, President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin should convey that he is open to discussing how other new Russian strategic systems, including Poseidon [nuclear-capable underwater drones] and Skyfall [unlimited-range cruise missile], would be covered by New START and invite the United States to work with Russia to clarify how the U.S. has converted nuclear launchers to conventional launchers to comply with the treaty," he stated.
"To improve the chances of New START extension before the 2021 expiration deadline, Russia and the United States should jointly announce they will pursue further regular negotiation beginning in 2020 on a more comprehensive New START follow-on instrument and pledge to pursue further discussions with China on mutual nuclear risk reduction measures, mutual accounting measures and declarations, and future nuclear arms control options," he added.
Set up in 1971, the Washington-based Arms Control Association is a non-government organization promoting public support for arms control and nonproliferation policies.
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 told a board meeting of the Defense Ministry in late 2018 that Russia had launched the serial production of Avangard hypersonic missile systems. Putin stressed at the time that the Avangard, along with Sarmat missiles, Kinzhal and Peresvet missile systems, would boost the potential of the Army and the Navy to guarantee Russia’s security for decades to come.
The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry 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 ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers.
The New START Treaty will remain in force for 10 years, until 2021, unless it is replaced before that date by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It can also be extended for no longer than 5 years (that is, until 2026) by the parties’ mutual consent.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay prolongation of the treaty it describes as the gold standard in the area of disarmament.
Answering a TASS question on November 4, US President Donald Trump said the United States would like to sign a new arms control agreement with Russia, China and, maybe, a number of other countries. He did not say however whether the United States was planning to extend the New START agreement.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in an interview with the Financial Times in late June that once this treaty ceased to exist, "then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race."