Following Russia’s offer of diplomacy to try to save the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Trump Administration has reiterated allegations that Russia is in violation of the INF because of a single missile design.
The missile in question in the 9m729, a ground-launched cruise missile. The missile has been in development since 2000, and was first test fired in July of 2014. The US believes Russia has two battalions deployed, containing up to 48 missiles.
The INF Treaty eliminated all land-launched nuclear missiles with ranges from 500 km to 5,500 km.The US says this puts 9m729 in violation, with the US estimating its maximum range at 2,500 km.
Russia, however, says they never tested the 9m729 to have anywhere near that range, and do not consider it a violation. This actually makes sense, as the missile is designed as a modified version of the Iskander-K, which itself only had a range of 400 km.
From the Russian perspective, it is a short-range missile. The US, however, sees it as similar to the Russian Navy’s 3m-54 missile, which has a much longer range than the Iskander. Naval missiles aren’t covered by the INF, but a land-based variant would be banned, so the US is assuming a violation to take place.
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