US Cruise Missile Test Intended To Make Sure US Capable Of Deterring China - Pentagon Head

US Cruise Missile Test Intended to Make Sure US Capable of Deterring China - Pentagon Head

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 22nd August, 2019) By its recent cruise missile test launch, the United States intended to make sure it had capabilities to deter China's "bad behavior," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview.

On Monday, the Pentagon said it tested a conventional ground-launched cruise missile on August 18 that flew more than 500 kilometers (310 miles), a range banned under the collapsed US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which Washington exited earlier this month.

"We wanted to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to also deter China's bad behavior by having our own capability to be able to strike it in intermediate ranges," Esper told Fox news, when asked if the launch was meant to send a signal to China, Russia or North Korea.

After being sworn in as the defense secretary in June, Esper went for his first foreign trip to Asia in August.

When asked if he chose Asia for his first trip because he considered China to be the greatest security threat to the United States, Esper said that China was the number one priority for the Defense Department.

The Pentagon chief also characterized Beijing as Washington's long-term strategic competitor, saying that the United States would not pull out of the region.

"I think in long term, China is a greater challenge, given its economic might, its political weight and its ambitions," Ester argued when asked if China or Russia posed a greater threat to the United States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the US cruise missile test involving a Mark 41 launcher, which violated provisions of the INF Treaty, poses a risk to the global security architecture and might result in a new arms race.

Later on Thursday, the UN Security Council is set to meet for open discussions of the missile test by the United States and its potential deployment.

In February, the United States formally suspended its INF obligations, triggering a six-month withdrawal process. In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by signing a decree suspending Moscow's participation in the accord. The sides had been accusing each other of violating the treaty.

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