The first sign that the President wanted to pursue this course of action came in December when he tweeted that – quote – “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes” – end quote – and then proceeded to reportedly talk about this issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reports from their early February conversation allege that the American leader told his counterpart that the New START agreement reached between both of their predecessors was a “bad deal” for the US. This indicated that Trump might in fact not be interested in renewing this nuclear weapons reduction treaty when it expires 2021, which would in effect mean that both countries could then return to their classic security dilemma which would then naturally compel them to build more nukes.
Trump, true to character, was coy at the time about whether or not this is what he actually intends to do, but his latest comments indicate that he might really be planning to not only ditch the New START deal after it expires, but to even revise, violate, or pull out of it beforehand. The reason for such serious alarm is that Trump told Reuters last week in an interview that – quote – “we're never going to fall behind any country even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power” – end quote – which signaled to many that the expansion of the US’ nuclear arsenal, in violation of the New START deal, might actually be on the President’s agenda for the coming four-to-eight years unless he reaches a revised agreement with the Russians. Failure to do so would have an extremely destabilizing effect on Russian-American ties because the two Great Powers’ relationship is predicated on the nuclear parity between them.
If one side or the other takes unilateral and decisive steps to upset that balance, then it would logically prompt the other to respond in similar fashion, whether symmetrically or asymmetrical. Either way, the end result is the same – a resumption of the nuclear arms race.
To discuss this in more detail Andrew Korybko is joined by Carl Osgood, military analyst for Executive Intelligence Review and Paul Grenier, prominent author and former interpreter for US State Department and Pentagon.
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