WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has warned that the United States will increase its nuclear arsenal until other nations "come to their senses", days after he said the US would pull out of a Cold war era arms control treaty with Russia.
Trump has confirmed that he would withdraw the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia that limited the number of missiles in the two nations, accusing Moscow of violating the deal.
The treaty was one of those agreements and is set to expire in the next two years. The 1987 pact helps protect the security of the US and its allies in Europe and the Far East.
''We will build it (nuclear arsenal) up. Until people come to their senses -- 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,'' Trump told reporters at the White House.
The US now wants to leave the INF. I'm terminating the agreement because they violated the agreement. I'm terminating the agreement, he had said.
''When they do, then we'll all stop. We will not only stop, we'll reduce, which I would love to do. But right now, they have not adhered to the agreement,'' Trump said.
Reiterating that Russia had violated the treaty, he said, "They have not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself, Russia - China's not as good at the agreement, they should be. But until they get smart, there's nobody that's going to be even close to us."
''It's a threat to whoever you want, and it includes China, and it includes Russia and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can't do that. You can't play that game on me,'' Trump asserted.
Russia has denied it is in violation of the treaty.
Senator Jim Risch supported the move toward withdrawal from the INF treaty.
''At a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were the only global superpowers, the INF Treaty was a landmark agreement that helped provide stability and security in Europe,'' he said.
The INF treaty was signed between the then US president Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.
For the past several years, the Russian government has systematically violated the INF Treaty and deployed systems around Europe that undermine the stability that the INF Treaty helped create, Risch alleged.
Russian actions represent a material breach of the Treaty, and it is abundantly clear, the United States is the only country limited by the INF Treaty, he said.
''In addition, new strategic threats from a rising China requires the United States to consider the alliances we have around the world and the commitments to uphold international security. The United States cannot help provide effective deterrence in Asia as long as we are limited by the INF treaty. The time has come to set the Treaty aside and develop alternative avenues toward the security the treaty once provided,'' Risch said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, warned that withdrawing the US from the INF treaty would be a strategic mistake that would weaken national security and the security of key allies.
''Since the Cold War, this arms-control agreement has banned an entire class of dangerous nuclear weapons, reducing the threat of nuclear war,'' she said.
''Alleging that Russia has violated this treaty for several years, Feinstein said the US must take strong diplomatic actions to address that violation. However, withdrawing from the treaty will only accelerate a nuclear arms race, leaving us far less safe,'' she said.
Noting that the US is already investing more than USD 1 trillion to modernize its nuclear arsenal, including developing a new air-launched cruise missile and a dangerous 'low-yield' ballistic missile, she said US does not need to spend more money on more nuclear weapons.
''President Trump should be leading non-proliferation efforts around the world, not undermining existing treaties. Rather than abandon another nuclear agreement, he should be working with our NATO allies to counter Russia's deployment of banned weapons and search for ways to reduce both countries' nuclear arsenals,'' Feinstein said.
Senator Bob Menendez echoed Feinstein.
''There is no doubt that Russia is responsible for the degradation of the INF treaty. However, withdrawing from this treaty without a comprehensive strategy for addressing its underlying strategic implications and without consulting Congress or our allies threatens long-term United States' national security interests,'' Menendez said.