Trump wants to stop an ‘uncontrollable’ arms race with China and Russia, barely a month after he scrapped a landmark nuclear treaty
President Donald Trump on Monday said an arms race between the US, China, and Russia had become “uncontrollable,” signaling he hoped to work with the leaders of those countries to bring it to a “meaningful halt” in the near future.
“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race,” Trump tweeted. “The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”
This comes a little over a month after Trump announced the US was withdrawing from the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF), a move that prompted swift criticism from European leaders and nuclear experts.
Trump justified the move by alleging Russia was violating the treaty. American officials began accusing Russia of violating the landmark treaty as far back as the Obama administration, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied breaching its terms.
Nuclear experts have said there is strong evidence Russia is violating the INF treaty and the US is justified for criticizing Moscow in this regard, but also warned ripping the deal up opens a dangerous door for Russia.
“Given Russian violations, there’s no question the US is justified in withdrawing,” Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently told CNBC. “But we don’t want withdrawal to merely let Russia off the hook without other robust actions to support US deterrence and defense goals.”
The Reagan-era INF treaty barred land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 311 miles and 3,420 miles. After it was signed in 1987, the US and Russia were forced to cut thousands of missiles from their respective nuclear arsenals.
Trump briefly met with Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina over the weekend, but their short-lived chat did not seem to accomplish much. The two leaders had originally been set to have a longer, more formal meeting, but Trump cancelled it over Russia’s recent aggression toward Ukraine.
Trump in the past has called for the US to ramp up its defense spending and put more energy into arms development. The president pushed for and approved a $716 billion defense budget earlier this year.
The Pentagon also recently signaled it was shifting its focus from thwarting terrorism to countering the growing threats from Russia and China.