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Iran Press TV

US modernizing missile systems against Russia, China: Pentagon

Iran Press TV

Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:37PM

The Pentagon has once again confirmed that it is planning to upgrade its missile systems to protect America from the increasing Russian "provocation," says a senior US military official.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brian McKeon laid down the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to focus on "developing and implementing a strategy to address Russian military actions."

"Russia is making significant investments in cruise missiles, including a cruise missile that violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of US and Russian missiles nearly three decades ago," he told the panel.

The DoD's plans further include "modifying and expanding air defense systems to deny Russia offensive capabilities" as well as "investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia's provocation."

The official was trying to persuade the lawmakers to approve the US Missile Defense Agency's requested budget for the 2017 fiscal year which amounts to $7.5 billion.

He said Russia and China are sitting on top of the list of America's "evolving challenges," accusing Moscow and Beijing of actions that signal "a return to great power competition."

Also on the Pentagon's to-do list is "modernizing" defense capabilities in order to remain ahead of a growing ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea, Iran and Syria, McKeon said.

He added that Washington is open to partnering with allies that are "most concerned with Russian behavior" and counter the perceived threats.

The INF treaty, which was signed by then the US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, maintains that the two countries cannot possess, produce, or test-fly nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges, defined as between 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles).

The two sides have repeatedly accused one another of breaching the 30-year old agreement.

In June last year Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov blasted the US over "ramping up the issue of 'Russian violations' to justify" its own plans to deploy missile systems across Europe.

Russia does not look favorably upon the North Atlantic Organization Treaty (NATO)'s growing deployment of missiles and nuclear weapons near its borders, with the Russian President Vladimir Putin saying in June last year that if threatened by NATO, Moscow will respond to the threat accordingly.

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