Trump says US will withdraw from nuclear arms treaty with Russia

Donald Trump said on Saturday the US will “terminate” a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

The Guardian reported on Friday that Trump’s third national security adviser, John Bolton, was pushing for a US withdrawal from the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF), which the US says Russia has been violating with the development of a new cruise missile.

Speaking to reporters in Nevada after a campaign rally on Saturday, Trump said: “Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honoured the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honoured the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement, we’re going to pull out.”

Such a move would be a sharp break from US arms control policy. Former US officials told the Guardian this week Bolton was blocking talks on extending another treaty with Russia, New Start, which was signed in 2010 and is due to expire in 2021.

Asked on Saturday to clarify, the president said the US will “have to develop those weapons”. He also drew in China.

“Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and they say, ‘Let’s all of us get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’” he said, “but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable. So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with with our military.”

He added: “Russia has not adhered to the agreement, so we are going to terminate the agreement and we are going to develop the weapons. If we get smart and if others get smart, and say ‘Let’s not develop these horrible nuclear weapons,’ I would be extremely happy with that.

“But as long as somebody’s violating that agreement then we’re not going to be the only ones to adhere to it.”

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily