Threat from nuclear weapons and missiles has grown since Trump entered office
The situation presents a broader challenge to the United States. The administration has heralded an era of “great power competition” with China and Russia, resulting in a competitive buildup that arms-control advocates warn is risking a full-blown arms race.
Russia is developing nuclear-armed underwater drones, nuclear-powered cruise missiles and other destabilizing weapons designed to penetrate U.S. missile defenses. China is ramping up its missile force and building out its nuclear capabilities with new nuclear submarines. And the United States is modernizing its own arsenal, while adding low-yield nuclear warheads to submarines and enhancing missile defenses. All the while, Iran and North Korea are advancing as threats.
The result is an escalatory cycle that experts say is threatening decades of progress controlling the world’s most dangerous weapons. A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies warned that the decline of U.S. global influence and the rise of regional security tensions, coupled with the staying power of authoritarian leaders, will incentivize more nations to pursue nuclear weapons and limit Washington’s ability to respond.
The issue looms over the final days of the U.S. presidential campaign, as North Korea demonstrates that, despite Trump’s efforts, Kim Jong Un’s regime is busy enhancing its nuclear missile arsenal. Trump is also rushing to conclude a last-minute arms control deal with Russia, hoping to secure an agreement he can tout as a diplomatic win before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Trump’s interest in arms control dates to at least the 1980s, when he sought unsuccessfully to engage in nuclear talks with the Soviets on behalf of the Reagan administration. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump described nuclear weapons as the world’s biggest problem and has called the issue more important than climate change.
But after nearly four years in office, he hasn’t