Pulling out of atomic treaty with Russia also aimed at China, says Trump

AFP Washington, DC, USA Oct 23, 2018, 06.39 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Beijing is not a signatory to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

President Donald Trump said Monday that his decision to withdraw from a decades-old atomic accord with Russia was also driven by a need to respond to China's nuclear build-up.

"Until people come to their senses, we will build it up," Trump said at the White House, referring to the US nuclear arsenal.

"It's a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China. And it includes Russia. And it includes anybody else that wants to play that game."

Beijing is not a signatory to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

China for its part on Monday called on the United States to "think twice" about its decision to ditch a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.

"It needs to be emphasised that it is completely wrong to bring up China when talking about withdrawal from the treaty," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

The landmark treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and led to nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles being eliminated.

It put an end to a mini-arms race in the 1980s triggered by the Soviet Union's deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western European capitals.

Meanwhile, Trump's national security advisor John Bolton insisted at meetings with top Russian officials that Moscow has been violating a Cold War-era nuclear treaty the US president wants to abandon.

Bolton, who is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, also implied the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) could not be salvaged.

He was visiting Russia after Trump sparked concern globally at the weekend by saying he wanted to jettison the pact which bans intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles.

On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and spent "nearly five hours" in talks with Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev,