President Donald Trump has his eyes on a new foreign policy prize: a grand nuclear deal with Russia and China that he sees as a potential signature foreign policy achievement, CNN reported.
However, some arms control experts are concerned the effort could backfire. The President, who has a penchant for big deals, has hinted publicly a deal is on his agenda, adding a threat if it doesn’t come to pass.
“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t,” Trump said, mentioning his decision to pursue a treaty during his January address to the nation. “In which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.”
The White House is conducting intense interagency talks to develop options for the President to pursue such a deal, building off another nuclear pact, the New START Treaty, which expires in 2021, multiple White House officials told CNN.
“The President has made clear that he thinks that arms control should include Russia and China and should include all the weapons, all the warheads, all the missiles,” said a senior White House official. “We have an ambition to give the President options as quickly as possible to give him as much space on the calendar as possible.”
“This is something that no administration has tried,” the senior official said. “But I would argue no administration has tried what [Trump] tried with North Korea for example.”
Administration officials say their aim is to revamp a dusty pact for a new age and increase global security. “If we can get the deal right, if we can make sure that it fits 2021 and beyond, President Trump has made very clear that if we can get a good solid arms control agreement we ought to get one,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress this month.
He added that “we need to make sure we’ve got all of the parties that are relevant as a component of this as well,” Pompeo said. “Other countries besides Russia and China.” The Trump administration has not set out a timeline for negotiations or even raised the prospect with China and Russia. Pompeo told lawmakers the US was in the “very beginning of conversations about renewing” the treaty.