Trump Presidency aims at ensuring America’s supremacy in nuclear weapons
President views New START treaty with Russia as a bad deal for the US
Russia’s recent violation of a 1987 missile treaty is “big deal” for Trump
President is convinced China could have reigned in North Korea’s missile ambitions
US President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his all-out commitment to the development of America’s nuclear arsenal saying he would ensure it would at the “top of the pack”.
Trump made his first comments on the development of the US nuclear forces since he took office on January 20, speaking in an interview for Reuters on Thursday.
If the World’s Gonna Have Nukes…
“It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Trump said.
“I am the first one that would like to see … nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power,“ the new US President added, while voicing his concern that in recent years the United States had “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity”.
His new comments were in line with a tweet he posted in December 2016 in which he declared “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”.
Back then, his post was criticized by arms control advocates who cited the fact that the US is presently implementing a 30-year-long nuclear modernization program worth USD 1 trillion.
At present, Russia has 7,000 warheads and the United States, 6,800, according to the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear group, Reuters reminds.
A US State Department official gave ABC News slightly different figures: the US has a total of 4,571 warheads in its functional stockpile, of which 1,367 are deployed, while Russia has 1,796 deployed.
Also on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared that Trump had been “very clear” that the United States could not “yield its [nuclear] supremacy to anybody.”
“That’s what he made very clear in there in that if other countries have nuclear capabilities, it will always be the United States that has the supremacy and commitment to this,” Spicer said at Thursday’s press briefing, as cited by The Hill.
End to the New START with Russia?
Under the so called New START treaty between the USA and Russia, or START 2, which was signed in 2011 (the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START 1, was signed with the former Soviet Union in 1991), the two powers have until February 5, 2018, to limit the number of their deployed nuclear weapons to up to 1,550 each.
In the Reuters interview, however, US President Donald Trump alluded to the possibility that he might want to abrogate START 2.
He did call the treaty with Russia “a one-sided deal” making clear his view that it was unfavorable to the USA.
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” Trump stated.
Trump also expressed his dissatisfaction over Russia’s recent deployment of a ground-based cruise missile which the US authorities say was in violation of the bilateral 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banning ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
“To me it’s a big deal,” said Trump, making it clear he would raise the issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “if and when we meet“. He revealed no meeting with Putin had been scheduled yet.
On China’s Clout with North Korea
In his interview, the US President said he was very concerned about the ballistic missile tests carried out recently by the regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea.
He also made clear his understanding that China had not put in efforts to prevent North Korea’s plans.
“We’ll see what happens. But it’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion,” Trump said.
He noted that speeding up the deployment of a US missile defense system for allies South Korea and Japan was one solution against North Korea’s potential aggressive military moves.
Elements of the US THAAD (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) are expected to be deployed in South Korea in 2017, US Defense Secretary James Mattis announced during a recent trip to Seoul and Tokyo.
In his interview with Reuters on Thursday, US President Donald Trump also demonstrated he had changed his mind about the European Union calling it “wonderful”.