Russia is engaged in a major violation of the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States by building a new medium-range missile banned under the accord, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Disclosure of the treaty violation comes as President Barack Obama last week called for a new round of arms negotiations with Moscow aimed at cutting deployed nuclear warheads by one-third.
Intelligence officials said internal assessments identified Russia's new Yars M missile that was tested earlier this month as an INF missile with a range of less than 5,500 kilometers.
"The intelligence community believes it's an intermediate-range missile that [the Russians] have classified as an ICBM because it would violate the INF treaty" if its true characteristics were known, said one official.
However, Russia is denying its new Yars M missile represents an INF violation.