WASHINGTON – President of the United States of America Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure The United States nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the US has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity.
In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea “very easily if they want to,” ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions.
In his first comments about the United States nuclear arsenal since taking office on January 20, Trump said he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons
but expressed concern that the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.”
“I am the first one that would like to see everybody – 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.
“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.
Russia has 7,300 warheads and the United States, 6,970, according to the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear group.
“The history of the Cold War shows us that no one comes out ‘on the top of the pack’ of an arms race and nuclear brinkmanship,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association non-profit group.
“Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by another nuclear-armed country,’ he said.
The new strategic arms limitation treaty, known as New START, between the United States and Russia requires that by February 5, 2018, both countries must limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
The treaty permits both countries to have no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear weapons, and contains equal limits on other nuclear weapons.
Analysts have questioned whether Trump wants to abrogate New START or would begin deploying other warheads.
In the interview, Trump called New START “a one-sided deal.”
“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,” he said.
The United States is in the midst of a $1 trillion, 30-year modernization of its aging ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles, a price tag that most experts say the country cannot afford.
Trump also complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles.