(RFE/RL) — US President Donald Trump says he wants to boost the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the “top of the pack.”
Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters on February 23, argued that the United States has fallen behind in its nuclear-arms capacity.
The 2011 strategic arms limitation treaty between the United States and Russia, known as New START, stipulates that both sides must limit by February 2018 their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for a period of 10 years.
New START allows each side no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic-missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear weapons. It also imposes equal limits on other nuclear weapons.
Trump, speaking at his desk in the Oval Office, called New START a one-sided pact.
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran [nuclear] deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” he said.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the July 2015 deal between world powers and Iran, which imposed curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions.
The U.S. president also mentioned in the February 23 interview Moscow’s deployment of a cruise missile in alleged violation of a 1987 arms control treaty that bans land-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
“To me, it’s a big deal,” Trump said, adding that he would bring up the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin “if and when we meet.”
Russia has denied violating the treaty.
Trump also put more pressure on China to solve the security challenge posed by North Korea, saying that Beijing could exert more influence on Pyongyang “very easily if they want to.”