Pentagon Plans to Test Long-Banned Nuclear-Capable Missiles This Year

Tests to begin after August, when INF Treaty is canceled

With President Trump having suspended involvement in the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in February, initial assurances that the US didn’t intend to start openly violating the former treaty seem to be scrapped, with Pentagon officials now affirming that this is exactly the plan.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon issued a statement announcing that they will begin making parts for intermediate-range, nuclear-capable missiles soon. In August, when the six month pullout process in completed, the Pentagon now says it intends to test missiles of the types that would’ve been explicitly banned under the INF.

This isn’t a treaty violation, of course. Indeed, the whole point is that the Pentagon is waiting until the moment the INF is dead to start doing these things. There are more disturbing questions, however, with how the US plans to deploy such missiles.

Historically, the US circumvented the INF by making ship-launched missiles. Land-based missiles in the INF range, 500 km to 5,500 km, would have no use in the US, because they wouldn’t be in range of anything.

Historically, US nuclear arms in that range were positioned in Europe and aimed at Russia. Vladimir Putin has already made clear that US missiles returning to Europe would lead to a new arms race, and while the US hasn’t announced that is their intention, yet, it’s not clear what else the missiles would be for.

On the other hand, most NATO nations in Europe probably aren’t going to want to play host to American nuclear weapons. Doing so would obviously make them a bigger target in a war with Russia, and would likely be generally unpopular within the host country.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.