Trump aims for major nuclear deal with Russia, China

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2019 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump (not in the picture) depart the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on April 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

Washington (IANS) US President Donald Trump is aiming for a grand nuclear deal with Russia and China, that he sees as a potential signature foreign policy achievement, the media reported on Friday.

Administration officials told CNN that the White House is conducting intense inter-agency 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.

"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 official said, adding: "But I would argue no administration has tried what (Trump) tried with North Korea for example."

Administration officials said their aim was to revamp a dusty pact for a new age and increase global security.

The Trump administration has not set out a timeline for negotiations or even raised the prospect with China and Russia. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress earlier this month that the US was in the "very beginning of conversations about renewing" the treaty.

The 2010 New START treaty limits both the US and Russia to deploying 1,550 nuclear warheads over 700 delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers. 

It also allows for 18 on-site inspections every year that allow each side to keep a close eye on the others' capabilities.

The treaty is set to expire in 2021, but could be extended for up to five years if both sides agree.

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