US tests cruise missile on San Nicolas island (Picture: US Department of Defense).

US Tests Medium-Range Cruise Missile After Exiting INF Treaty

US tests cruise missile on San Nicolas island (Picture: US Department of Defense).

US tests cruise missile on San Nicolas island (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The US Department of Defense says it has successfully tested a medium-range ground-launched cruise missile.

It comes just weeks after tearing up the Cold War-era pact with Russia eliminating that class of nuclear-capable weapons.

The missile was launched from the US Navy-controlled San Nicolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles, California.

"The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of flight," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile during a flight test 101102 CREDIT US Navy
The missile tested was a version of the nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missile, which was removed from service after the INF was ratified (Library picture: US Navy).

The US and Russia withdrew from the treaty on 2 August, prompted by what the administration said was Russia's unwillingness to stop violating the treaty's terms.

Moscow accused the US of violating the agreement.

The newly-tested cruise missile recalls a nuclear-armed US weapon that was deployed in several European NATO countries in the 1980s, along with Pershing 2 ground-based ballistic missiles, in response to a build-up of Soviet SS-20 missiles targeting western Europe.

With the signing of the treaty, those missiles were withdrawn and destroyed.

In addition to the land variant of the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Pentagon has said it also intends to begin testing, probably before the end of this year, an INF-range ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres (1,864 to 2,485 miles). Both missiles are to be non-nuclear.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said this month that he hopes the Pentagon can develop and deploy INF-range missiles "sooner rather than later", but no specific timeline has been announced.

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