A top U.S. Defense Department official said Russia violated a landmark nuclear treaty with the recent test of a new surface-to-air missile.
Russia on Sept. 2 tested a new cruise missile that the Pentagon is calling the SSC-X-8, which may be based on the SS-N-30A Kalibr, according to an article on the conservative website The Washington Free Beacon. The latter is a variant of the SS-N-27B (shown above).
The 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty signed by the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.
While Russiaâ€™s new missile reportedly didnâ€™t fly beyond 300 miles, the test nevertheless violated the terms of the INF, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said on Tuesday during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The acknowledgment came during a back-and-forth between Work and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, who asked him about news reports of the test during a cybersecurity hearing.
“This is a long-standing issue that we have been discussing with the Russians,” Work said. “The system that youâ€™re talking about is in development. It has not been fielded yet. We have had different discussions with them on our perception of the violation of the INF and they have come back. This is still in discussions and we have not decided on any particular action at this point.”
Ayotte then asked, “Are you saying you donâ€™t think they violated the INF treaty?”
Work replied, “We believe very strongly that they did.”
Ayotte said, “Thatâ€™s what I thought. So what are we going to do about it?”
Work again said the Russians havenâ€™t fielded the system and are thus still negotiating their position. If they move forward with such a deployment, he said, the U.S. will retaliate byÂ taking one of actions involving missile defense, counter force or countervailing measure, as outlined by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.