President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that the United States would increase its nuclear arsenal until other nations “come to their senses,” threatening an arms race days after he said he would withdraw the US from a Cold War nuclear treaty.
“Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said from outside the White House.
Trump announced over the weekend that he intended to pull the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and accused Russia of violating the deal.
Some observers, including Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, have said the announcement could be a move to push Russia into compliance, and Trump, in his comments on Monday, said he hoped to include China in the arrangement.
Trump repeated on Monday that Russia had not adhered to the Cold War-era treaty and said his vow to increase the US nuclear stockpile included a posture against China as well.
“It’s a threat to whoever you want,” Trump said. “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 noted that China was not a party to the agreement, but said, “They should be included.”
Russia has denied it is in violation of the treaty, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev — who signed the deal with US President Ronald Reagan in 1987 — said the US announcement was “very irresponsible.”
Despite threatening to spend vast sums to increase the US nuclear arsenal, Trump said ultimately he hoped to bring the country back onto the path of reducing its weapons stockpiles.
“We have more money than anybody else by far,” Trump said. “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, we’ll reduce, which I would love to do. But right now, they have not adhered to the agreement.”