A team of US inspectors were able to see Russia’s new Avangard hypersonic nuclear weapon system for the first time, courtesy of the Russian Ministry of Defence which provided them with such opportunity.
As ministry officials have explained, this move was performed under the auspices of the New START treaty, in order to help ensure the agreement’s "viability and effectiveness".
"Within the framework of the implementation of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, on November 24-26, 2019, the Avangard missile system with a hypersonic winged glider unit was shown to the American inspection team," a statement issued by the defence ministry said.
The Avangard (Vanguard) hypersonic nuclear-capable missile, which is expected to enter service in December 2019, can travel at 20 times the speed of sound and hit targets, while its glide vehicle can penetrate even the most advanced missile defence systems as its exceptional manoeuvrability make it nearly impossible to track.
The New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty that was signed between the United States and Russia in 2010 and came into effect the following year, being expected to last until 2021.
It is the last remaining arms control treaty in force between Russia and the US, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.
Earlier this year, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control warned that the United States is apparently seeking a pretext to avoid extending the New START treaty.