The US tested a new ground-based cruise missile which can hit a target after more than 500 kilometres of flights weeks after withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning such systems, the Pentagon said on Monday in a statement.

The test took place at 2.30 pm at San Nicolas Island, California, the Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the statement, “The missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometres of flight”.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” it said.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said, “The US will fully develop ground-launched conventional missiles after withdrawing from the INF Treaty earlier this month”.

The collapse of the INF Treaty, which was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, has triggered the fear that a new round of arms race is looming, many analysts say.

Last year, Washington said that it would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) while accusing Russia of failing to comply with it.

Within the next few weeks, the United States is expected to test a ground-launched cruise missile, and in November, the Pentagon will aim to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Both would be tests of conventional weapons – and not nuclear.

President Trump has said that he would like to see a “next-generation” arms control deal with Russia and China to cover all types of nuclear weapons, something Beijing has so far rejected.