US President Donald Trump has escalated his nuclear arms rhetoric, saying he intends to build up the weapons arsenal until Russia and China “come to their senses”.
Mr Trump’s latest comments came after Russia threatened to build up its stockpile if the US quit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The INF treaty, signed by former US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, required the elimination of short-and-intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles by both countries.
But Mr Trump claims Russia is not abiding by the treaty and says, given the US has more money than other nations, it would outspend in any arms race.
“Until people come to their senses we will build it up,” Mr Trump said of the US arsenal. “Russia has not adhered to the agreement.
“This should have been done years ago. Until people come to their senses, we have more money than anybody else by far, we’ll build it up until they come to their senses.
“When they do, then we’ll all be smart and we’ll all stop and – by the way – not only stop but we will reduce, which I would love to do … until they get smart, there will be nobody that’s going to be even close to us”.
He also took aim at “anyone else who wants to play that game”, including China, suggesting that it should be included in any new or renegotiated agreement.
The ABC reported Mr Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton met Russian officials on Monday, where he said Russia was violating its commitments under the pact. Moscow has denied the allegation.
The European Union warned Mr Trump to assess the potential impact on American citizens and the world of the US withdrawing from a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, and increasing its arsenal.
The EU statement said the arms control treaty had been an essential cornerstone of Europe’s security structure for more than three decades and helped contain the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary, would bring even more instability,” the EU said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US move to end the treaty would force Russia to increase its own capacity.
“This is a question of strategic security. Such measures can make the world more dangerous,” Mr Peskov said of the planned US withdrawal.