The US is considering deploying more nuclear weapons to deter Russia, China, and North Korea, US official says

  • The US is considering deploying more strategic nuclear weapons, a senior Biden official said.

  • Russia, China, and North Korea are increasing their nuclear capabilities rapidly, said Pranay Vaddi.

  • The US must modernize its nuclear arsenal to deter threats and preserve stability, the official said.

The US is considering deploying more strategic nuclear weapons after years of post-Cold War cutbacks, a senior Biden administration official said.

Speaking at the annual meeting Arms Control Association (ACA) on Friday, Pranay Vaddi, the top National Security Council arms control official, said, “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.”

Vaddi warned that adversaries of the US, specifically referring to Russia, China, and North Korea,”are all expanding and diversifying their nuclear arsenals at a breakneck pace, showing little or no interest in arms control.”

Along with Iran, these countries “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,” he said.

Vaddi’s comments contrast with the US government’s position on nuclear proliferation outlined by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the ACA meeting last year.

Sullivan said that the US did not need to “deploy ever-more dangerous nuclear weapons to maintain deterrence” or engage in a Cold War-style arms race.

“We’ve been there. We’ve learned that lesson,” Sullivan said.

In February last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin withdrew from the 2010 New START treaty, which placed controls on the number of nuclear weapons that Russia and the US could have at their disposal.

The limits meant that neither country could have more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.

Putin said that to resume treaty activities, the US would need to stop its support for Ukraine and force France and the UK to attend arms control talks.

At the time, President Joe Biden called Putin’s decision a “big mistake.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on February 29, 2024.ALEXANDER NEMENOV via Getty

Last week, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened nuclear strikes on the West, Reuters reported.

The former president held office from 2008 to 2012 and currently serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council.

Reuters reported that Medvedev said, “Nobody today can rule out the conflict’s transition to its final stage.”

In May, Russia announced drills with tactical nukes near Ukraine, which it said are being held in response to recent “threats” from the West.

Speaking about the growing threat of a nuclear conflict, Vaddi said, “We will have no choice but to adjust our posture and capabilities to preserve deterrence and stability.”

“We need to persuade our adversaries that managing rivalry through arms control is preferable to unrestrained competition,” he said.

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