19:36 GMT31 October 2020
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    The Pentagon has made it clear that the development and production of INF-banned cruise missiles is underway in the US. Speaking to Sputnik, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi and international criminal lawyer Christopher C. Black explained what signal the Trump administration is sending to Moscow and Beijing.

    The US is planning to test ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) previously banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August and November 2019, a Pentagon official told Reuters on 13 March.

    Two days earlier the US Department of Defence (DoD) officially confirmed that it was taking steps to develop new land-based missiles following the suspension of the treaty by the Trump administration from 2 February to 2 August 2019.

    The White House threatens to ultimately rip the deal up unless Russia "returns" to compliance with the treaty that bans cruise missiles with a range between 500 (310 miles) and 5,500 kilometres (3,240 miles).

    Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza specified that the DoD started "research and development of conventional, ground-launched missile concepts in late 2017".

    US New Land-Based Cruise Missiles to be Deployed in E Europe, Asia

    Speaking to Sputnik, Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer at the CIA, opined that "the White House is not interested in any arms agreement prior to elections in 2020".

    "It has taken a hardline position because it believes that its supporters among the public demand and expect toughness from Donald Trump," the CIA veteran said.

    Commenting on the DoD's announcement, Startfor, sometimes referred to as the "shadow CIA", stressed that that the new intermediate and short-range ground-launched systems are "really only useful when deployed outside the US" and presumed that "both Eastern Europe (where the United States is balancing security capabilities with Russia) and East Asia (where the United States faces China) are prime candidates for places where Washington would want to build up such a capability".  

    The former CIA official agreed with the assumption: "If the new short and medium range missiles are ever actually developed and deployed they will almost certainly wind up in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia to 'deter' Russia and China".

    "It is a very dangerous game as everyone involved will then feel the need to escalate their own arsenals", Giraldi warned. "It is also as stupid move as it does not actually respond to any genuine threats coming from either Beijing or Moscow. Many in Washington believe that the process is being largely driven by National Security Advisor John Bolton, who does not believe in treaties or in seeking solutions to resolve problems with foreign nations that do not involve the use of force".

    US Wants Complete Freedom of Action, Not Interested in Negotiations

    For his part, Christopher Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations, presumed that Trump administration and Pentagon activities surrounding the INF deal "appear to be designed to keep the Russian government off balance while they go ahead with design and production of these new weapons and decide where to locate them".

    "They made some suggestion that China should be brought into the Treaty for them to consider staying in but I do not think we can take that seriously since China has stated firmly it will never enter into that Treaty. The signal is clear I suggest that the US wants complete freedom of action and is not interested at all in negotiating", the lawyer stressed.

    According to Black, the Trump administration's recent manoeuvres fall into the same pattern as Washington's earlier promise "not to advance its forced into former Soviet —East European areas which it has broken every year since it was made", the abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and the ongoing games with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), while Pyongyang "is willing to make concessions no other nuclear power would ever make".

    "The signal to Moscow is 'we are arming ourselves to overwhelm your defences and destroy you so you better do what we say or else. Of course that or else means the destruction of all of us, but the US leadership does not appear to be rational", the international criminal lawyer underscored.

    Whichever US Party Wins 2020 Military Strategy Will be the Same

    Black believes that Washington's assertive strategy towards Moscow and Beijing has nothing to do with the upcoming 2020 presidential elections in the US: "Whichever party wins the same strategy will be followed", he foresees.

    "They are escalating tensions in order to push Russia and China to the wall. They want them to succumb to their hegemony one way or another, by threats if they can do it, by violence of that does not work. Again, they are insane, really, because of where that will lead", the lawyer said, stressing the US is pushing Moscow and Beijing towards an all-out arms race.

    According to him, the race has actually started from 2002, when then US President George W. Bush unilaterally tore apart the ABM deal: "Both Russia and China are responding to the increasing threat from the US", Black said. "They have no real choice".

    "I mean one can dream that together President Putin and Xi announce at a press conference that they are willing to eliminate all their nuclear weapons to see what the US reaction would be. It would be very dramatic. But they know the answer. The Americans would reject the idea out of hand because they want to dominate the word and the cannot do it with conventional forces", Black emphasised.

    On 1 February 2019 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would "suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective 2 February" claiming that Moscow jeopardised the US security interests.

    The bone of contention is Russia's 9M729 (NATO codename: SSC-8) missile system. To dispel Washington and NATO's suspicions the Russian Ministry of Defence held a presentation of the missile on 23 January 2019. However, NATO, US and EU representatives snubbed the event.

    In response to Washington's move Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow also suspended its obligations under the agreement.

    "The United States, not Russia, violated the INF" Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said commenting on the Pentagon's plans to test the INF-banned missiles. "It was the United States that included missile research and development on its draft budget. Therefore, it is only natural that the research will be followed by tests. These tests would be a logical continuation of the situation".

    The views and opinions expressed by the speakers and the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    missiles, INF Treaty, Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, NATO, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US Department of Defense (DoD), Pentagon, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, China, US, Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia
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