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Mark Esper: DoD to ‘Fully Pursue’ Ground-Launched Missile Dev’t Following INF Treaty Exit

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Mark Esper, Secretary of the Army

Defense Secretary and 2019 Wash100 Award recipient Mark Esper issued a statement on Friday announcing the nation’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty due to Russia’s “sustained and repeated violations” of the agreement which puts limitations on missile deployment.

The INF Treaty of 1987 between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union bans the deployment of land-based and nuclear-armed ballistic and cruise missiles with a 500 to 5,500-kilometer or 310 to 3,420-mile range. Esper noted that the DoD will “fully pursue” the development of ground-launched conventional missiles following INF Treaty-compliant research into various missile systems which began in 2017.

He added that the Pentagon intends to work with allies to further implement the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy.