Russia displays new missile, says it doesn’t violate INF treaty

Kubinka (Russia), Russia’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday showcased a new missile that the US claims violates a 1987 arms agreement aimed at eliminating intermediate and shorter-range missiles.

Russia denies that its development of the the Novator 9M729 missile violates the INF Treaty that bans missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km. The Novator 9M729 is part of the Iskander-M missile system.

Following an ongoing spat between Russia and the US over the former’s development of the missile, Moscow invited foreign military attachés to view the weapon in question, Efe news reported.

“The 9M729 is simply a variation of the 9M728 ballistic missile,” Russian chief of artillery and missile troops Lieutenant-General Mikhail Matveevsky said.

Matveevsky said that the new missile, although more powerful and precise than the 9M728, had a reach of 480 km, 10 km less than the 9M728, and that therefore it did not violate the INF Treaty.

He denied that the missile had exceeded the agreed 500 km in test flights carried out at the Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site and said the public presentation of the arms was a “gesture of transparency”.

At a meeting earlier on Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov alleged the US was refurbishing a factory in Tucson, Arizona, capable of producing intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles.

Riabkov said that, according to Russian sources, the US had been actively developing new missiles for a long time.

Washington announced it was preparing to suspend INF Treaty obligations on February 2, after which the US would trigger the required six-month process in order to formally pull out of the agreement.

Russia said it would recognize the US’ unilateral exit from the agreement.