The US recently abandoned the INF Treaty sparking fears of a Cold-War era arms race (Image: GETTY)
RUSSIA, the United States and France have test-launched nuclear-capable missiles within hours of one another as fears rise of a return to a Cold War-era arms race amid the abandonment of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
PUBLISHED: 02:03, Thu, Feb 7, 2019
UPDATED: 14:11, Thu, Feb 7, 2019
US test Minuteman III intercontinental missile in Vandenberg
The United States test launch an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The French military announced Tuesday its air force conducted a rare test Monday of the nuclear-capable medium-range air-to-surface missile (ASMP). The US then followed with firing a nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday night. Shortly after, Russian armed forces fired a nuclear-capable RS-24 Yars ICBM.
None of the tests were thought to be equipped with nuclear warheads and were likely scheduled ahead of the INF treaty breakdown.
In a press release the French Ministry of Defense said the demonstration of the ASMP was “successful”.
The weapon was fired at a testing centre of the DGA Essays de missiles located near Biscarrosse, southwestern France.
The ministry said the 11-hour mission was “planned for a long time” and demonstrated “the reliability of the airborne weapons system over time”.
The Trump administration has accused Russia has acted unlawfully under the terms of the treaty (Image: GETTY)
The US Air Force described the launching as a “developmental test” of the Minuteman III at approximately 11.01pm on Tuesday.
In a statement sent to the local NBC affiliate KSBY, Global Strike Command said their representatives “assert that missile tests are scheduled months or years in advance, this test comes just four short days after the Trump administration suspended the INF-treaty. A crucial landmark treaty between the US and Russia that eliminated entire categories of nuclear weapons.”
The Russian Defence Ministry said their weapon launched was “equipped with multiple warheads” and the “purpose of the launch was to confirm the tactical, technical and flight characteristics of the advanced missile system.”
Russia, the US and France are believed to have the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world.
It is believed Russia owns the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world with an estimated 6,800 warheads.
The US is thought to possess approximately 6,000 warheads.
Tensions are high following President Donald Trump’s announcement to abandon the INF treaty with Russia.
The INF treaty has been suspended following accusations from the US that Moscow violated the deal with the new Novato 9M729 missile.
The purpose of the treaty was to avoid a potential nuclear war as it prohibited the US and Soviet Union from stationing short and intermediate-range land missiles in Europe.
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Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the abandonment of the INF-treaty could bring nuclear war “much closer”.
A member of the German Parliament Manfred Weber tweeted: “The announced suspension of the INF-treaty by the United States is an urgent wakeup call for Europe.
“The consequences of scrapping this agreement could put us back decades. Russia’s noncompliance is a serious threat to security in Europe.”
Members of the Trump administration have said Russia’s noncompliance with the treaty was their reason for abandoning the deal.
When abandoning the INF treaty Trump said Russia had acted unlawfully under its terms.
The President said: “The United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawal, which will be completed in six months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment.”
He added: “We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”