By Michael Hernandez
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Monday to build up America’s nuclear arsenal "until people come to their senses".
The comments come after Trump's weekend announcement that Washington would be exiting the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which eliminated all U.S. and Russian nuclear missiles with ranges of 310-3,420 miles (500-5,500 kilometers) and their launchers, citing alleged Russian violations of the pact.
"Russia has not adhered to the agreement," Trump said Monday during remarks to reporters at the White House.
"We have more money than anybody else by far. 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,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Washington has yet to initiate the legal procedure for withdrawal from the treaty, but National Security Advisor John Bolton is expected to formally notify Moscow of the decision during his visit to Russia.
Trump said his threat to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal is aimed at "whoever you want," including China, who is not a signatory to the INF. The agreement was signed bilaterally between Russia and the U.S.
China is not a party to the agreement and therefore is not restricted in the development of its nuclear arsenal.
The threat, Trump said, "includes anybody else that wants to play that game”.
"China’s not included in the agreement. They should be included in the agreement," he said. "Until they get smart, there will be nobody that’s going to be even close to us."
Trump said he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about his decision to leave the treaty, arguing he does not have to.
"I don’t have to speak. I’m terminating the agreement because they violated the agreement," he said.