"I agree we need more communication with Russia, with China along the level of, I would almost call it, philosophical engagement, as well as operational matters," James Mattis said testifying before the House Armed Services Committee.
The US defense secretary’s testimony comes amid senators’ concern that the new nuclear strategy will undermine US leadership in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation, as it advocates the strengthening of its nuclear forces. According to Mattis, this move will ensure the security needed to make progress in arms control.
He also added that the US will continue to abide by the conditions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but will also work towards building a weapon that can convince Russia to do so too.
During the hearing, Mattis also expressed his concern with lack of stable funding due to the failure of the Congress to pass a budget for the next fiscal year. According to him, the Pentagon needs money not only to pay troops, maintain its equipment and weaponry, supply ammunitions, but also to develop new, up-to-date weapons and equipment.
The latest US Nuclear Posture Review was released January 2 and brought a halt to the trend for a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons, which began during the Obama administration. The new posture focuses on the modernization of nuclear armaments, which is, according to the Trump administration, long overdue.
In the posture the US names several countries that pose possible threats to global peace, including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. At the same time it expresses hope for establishing stable and constructive dialogs with Moscow and Beijing.
After the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the Washington-Moscow relations took a plunge amid intensifying Western sanctions, NATO’s expansion in Europe towards the Russian border and mutual accusations of violating arms control treaties.