The United States might have to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal in response to Russia, China and North Korea growing their nuclear programs “at a breakneck pace” according to a stark warning from a senior White House office.

Pranay Vaddi, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Arms Control at the White House, made the remark during a speech to the Arms Control Association on Friday.

Vaddi’s comments come against the backdrop of growing tensions between the U.S. and both Russia and China, sparking fears of an all-out war. In May, Russia conducted tactical nuclear weapons drills “in response to provocative statements and threats by individual Western officials.”


Hosts and guests on Russian state TV have repeatedly threatened nuclear strikes on Western powers including the U.S., France, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

Vaddi commented: “Absent a change in adversary arsenals, we may reach a point in the coming years where an increase from current deployed numbers is required. We need to be fully prepared to execute if the president makes that decision.

“If that day comes, it will result in a determination that more nuclear weapons are required to deter our adversaries and protect the American people and our allies and partners.”

During his address Vaddi warned that China, Russia and North Korea “are all expanding and diversifying their nuclear arsenals at a breakneck pace, showing little or no interest in arms control.”

He also claimed the three powers, along with Iran, are “increasingly cooperating and coordinating with each other in ways that run counter to peace and stability, threaten the United States, our allies and our partners and exacerbate region tensions” including by sharing missile and drone technology.

On Wednesday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned he could deploy conventional missiles within range of Western powers after a number of these gave Ukraine permission to hit Russian military targets on its own soil with their weapons for the first time.

Two days later, on June 7, Putin was asked whether Russia should hold a “nuclear pistol to the temple” of the West, during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, but he said this was not required at present.

Referring to nuclear weapons he commented: “The use is possible in an exceptional case—in the event of a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. I don’t think that such a case has come. There is no such need.”

During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday morning Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, claimed nuclear war is a bigger threat to the U.S. than climate change.

He commented: “I don’t want to see this country get into a nuclear war and be so badly damaged. What we say won’t matter, this place won’t matter, nothing will matter because practically nothing is going to be here any more. The level of power in weaponry, that’s real weaponry. That’s worse than the weaponry we were talking about a little while ago.

“This is obliteration, maybe world obliteration, and we have a man is not capable of discussing it. The only global warming that matters to me is nuclear global warming. Because that’s the real deal.”


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