President Trump warned China and Russia not to seek to win an arms race with the United States and instead proposed negotiations to expand a recently scrapped nuclear arms control pact.
“We really have no choice,” Trump said of the decision to withdraw from from the 1987 INF Treaty. “Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last week that the United States would withdraw from the treaty — which bans land-based intermediate-range cruise missiles — due to Russian violations of the pact in recent years. The treaty applies only to the former Cold War archenemies, while China has been free to develop such weapons unrestricted by the accord.
Beijing has rejected even preliminary suggestions for a negotiation to expand the deal.
“It would involve a series of complicated political, military and legal issues to make the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty multilateral, and many countries remain concerned about this,” Geng Shuang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Saturday. “A higher priority is to maintain and fully implement the existing treaty rather than establishing a new one.”
China’s development of the otherwise-illicit weapons has spurred congressional calls for a rapid rollout of the land-based cruise missiles.
“Now this action must be backed by American firepower,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said after Friday’s announcement. “The United States must regain the strategic advantage by expediting the development and deployment of a new generation of ground-launched missiles.”