A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “such tests only proved that from the very start, the Americans were determined to derail the INF Treaty and were making preparations for it.”
Nuclear experts and disarmament advocates are warning that the world is witnessing a new arms race after the Pentagon tested a new missile Sunday that would have violated a Cold War-era treaty the Trump administration ditched earlier this month.
After years of the U.S. government—under both the Obama and Trump administrations—and NATO accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987 by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Washington formally withdrew from the deal, which banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,000 kilometers, or about 310 to 3,400 miles.
On Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Defense “conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California,” the Pentagon revealed in a statement Monday. “The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
According to Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday: “As for the United States’s test of a conventional cruise missile, the news came while [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [French President Emmanuel] Macron were holding talks yesterday. Putin commented on it, saying that such tests only proved that from the very start, the Americans were determined to derail the INF Treaty and were making preparations for it.”
New nuclear arms race is here & it’s putting the 🌎 at risk of relapse into Cold War-II – just three weeks after US & Russia let #INFTreaty collapse,the US tested a missile that was previously banned under this treaty. Here are 9 things you need to know ➡️ https://t.co/l4adf5xHzK
— ICAN (@nuclearban) August 20, 2019
In response to the Pentagon’s announcement, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), tweeted Monday that “the nuclear weapons arms race is here and we all have a choice; remain passive and wait for these weapons of mass destruction to be used OR fight for the stigmatization, prohibition, and elimination of nuclear weapons.”
The nuclear weapons arms race is here and we all have a choice; remain passive and wait for these weapons of mass destruction to be used OR fight for the stigmatization, prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
— Beatrice Fihn (@BeaFihn) August 19, 2019
According to DefenseNews:
American officials have stressed they do not plan on building a nuclear ground-based cruise missile capability, but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said his department will “fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions and as part of the joint force’s broader portfolio of conventional strike options.”
Imagery of the test shows the weapon was launched from a Mark 41 Vertical Launch System, the same launcher used in the Aegis Ashore missile defense system. That is notable, as Russia has often claimed the MK 41 presence in Europe as a violation of the INF Treaty, with the belief that the Aegis Ashore systems in Poland and Romania could be converted to offensive systems.
“The launcher used in Sunday’s test is a MK 41; however, the system tested is not the same as the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System currently operating in Romania and under construction in Poland,” Lt. Col Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “Aegis Ashore is purely defensive. It is not capable of firing a Tomahawk missile. Aegis Ashore is not configured to fire offensive weapons of any type.”
“This test doesn’t prove or disprove” the U.S. government’s claim that the system in Europe couldn’t launch Tomahawks, Matt Korda, a research associate at the Federation of American Scientists’s Nuclear Information Project, wrote in a series of tweets Monday. “But it sure adds fuel to the fire.”
US doesn’t deny that Mk-41s can launch Tomahawks. But they DO deny that the Mk-41s *deployed in Europe* can launch Tomahawks.
This test doesn’t prove or disprove that claim. But it sure adds fuel to the fire.
Was it worth it just to 🖕 INF’s corpse? https://t.co/IM89r0xooV
— Matt Korda (@mattkorda) August 20, 2019
In the aftermath of the INF Treaty collapse in early August, Putin said that “if Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing [new intermediate-range nuclear missiles] systems and started to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles.”
Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them
In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.
"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."
Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.
In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.
“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”
Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial
Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.
The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.
"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"