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Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea made the remarks in an online presentation to the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank.
Mr Billingslea claimed that the US is determined to win the arms race, but want to avoid it if at all possible.
He said: “The president has made clear that we have a tried and true practice here.
“We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion.
“If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it.”
Billingslea was freshly appointed to the role, having previously been in charge of combating “terrorist financing” at the Treasury Department.
He has already discussed starting negotiations with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov “as soon as possible.”
However, while Moscow would like to extend the 2002 New Start treaty – set to expire in February 2021 – Billingslea seems uninterested, preferring instead a completely new “trilateral agreement” that would include China as well.
Speaking on Thursday, Billingslea made clear that the US expects Russia to “bring China to the negotiating table,” hinting that Moscow might do so because it is itself concerned about Beijing’s behaviour.
China, in his telling, might agree because it wants to be “afforded great power status” and the US is “ready to afford them that respect.”
The fact that Beijing has said “not interested” a number of times doesn’t seem to bother Washington.
Billingslea also said: “We intend to establish a new arms control regime now, precisely to prevent a full-blown arms race,”
It comes as Trump’s administration said on Thursday it would withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.
The administration said Russia had repeatedly violated the pact’s terms.
Trump told reporters: “I think we have a very good relationship with Russia.
“But Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty.
“So until they adhere, we will pull out.”
A trilateral arms control pact with Russia and China is reportedly President Trump’s idea, who has mentioned it repeatedly since saying he wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons altogether in April 2019.
Having previously unilaterally abrogated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Trump proceeded to exit the 1987 INF treaty banning medium-ranged missiles from Europe, and announced just hours before Billingslea’s interview that the US will be leaving the Open Skies treaty as well.
On both occasions he blamed “Russian violations,” but also described the treaties as Cold War relics that did not address new realities.
Billingslea’s interview did not address how the US intends to persuade Moscow or Beijing that the US will commit to the treaty.
However, it is debatable whether a nuclear arms race can actually take place right now due to the economic pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to SIPRI’s latest report, global defence spending has grown for five straight years and in 2019 amounted to almost $2 trillion.
But China’s defence spending this year will still rise 6.6 percent from 2019, according to a report issued at the opening of the country’s annual meeting of parliament on Friday.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the armed forces of China and the United States have remained active in the disputed South China Sea and around Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
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