Biden aide raises possible increased deployments of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States may reach a point in coming years where it will have to increase deployments of strategic nuclear weapons to deter growing threats from adversaries, a senior White House aide said on Friday.

Pranay Vaddi, a top National Security Council official, made the statement in a speech to the Arms Control Association, as he outlined a “more competitive approach” to arms control by the Biden administration.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he could deploy conventional missiles within striking distance of the United States and its European allies if they allowed Ukraine to strike deeper into Russia with long-range Western weapons but appeared to backtrack on Friday.

Vaddi stressed that the United States remains committed to international arms control and non-proliferation regimes designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.

But, he said, Russia has refused to discuss a successor treaty to the 2010 New START pact, which limits the countries’ deployments of strategic nuclear weapons but expires in 2026, while China has declined talks on its expanding nuclear arsenal.

“We may reach a point in the coming years where an increase from current deployed numbers is required,” said Vaddi. “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,” he continued.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Ismail ShakilEditing by Alistair Bell)