US could deploy more nuclear weapons in response to the growing threat from Russia and China

Unarmed Trident missile is fired from the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Vigilant
Unarmed Trident missile is fired from the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Vigilant - LOCKHEED MARTIN/PA

The US could deploy more strategic nuclear weapons in response to the growing threat from Russia and China, a senior White House aide has suggested.

Pranay Vaddi, a top National Security Council official, said on Friday that the Biden administration was taking a “more competitive approach” to arms control, and believes the deployment of more weapons is a possibility in the coming years.

American officials are concerned that Russia has refused to discuss a successor to the 2010 New Start treaty, which limits countries’ deployment of strategic nuclear weapons but expires in 2026.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has made a series of statements since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 that are designed to alarm the West about the possibility of him using long-range missiles against the US and its allies.

On Friday, he noted that while Russia and the US have advanced early warning missile systems, much of Europe does not, according to a Reuters report.

He added: “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.”

However, two days ago, he said Moscow could deploy conventional missiles within striking distance of the US if the White House allows Ukraine to launch long-range American-made weapons into Russia.

All countries with nuclear weapons choose to allocate some as “deployed strategic warheads” by loading them on to intercontinental ballistic missiles or stationing them at long-range bomber bases.

Earlier this year, The Telegraph revealed the White House intended to resurrect a Cold War era nuclear base in Suffolk by sending nuclear bombs there for the first time since the last warheads were removed in 2008.

Mr Vaddi said that the US could deploy more weapons if the White House feels its attempts to limit international nuclear proliferation are not matched by commitments from potential adversaries.

Senior National Security Council director Pranay Viddi
Senior National Security Council director Pranay Viddi

He also cited the refusal of China to enter into talks about its expanding nuclear arsenal.

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

It comes as Emmanuel Macron said on Friday night that he wanted to “finalise” the creation of a coalition of military instructors for Ukraine in the coming days.

“We will use the days to come to finalise the largest possible coalition to implement Ukraine’s demand,” said Mr Macron at an Elysée press conference with Volodymyr Zelensky, calling it a “legitimate” demand.

Denouncing what he called “the pacifist camp” and a “spirit of defeat” over Ukraine, he said: “France is on the side of peace but peace isn’t capitulation to the aggressor.”

“It is Russia that is attacking civilian infrastructure and civilians, which is a war crime,” he said, adding that Russia should “not betray its own history when in 1944 it resisted” Nazism.

Mr Zelensky also met with Mr Biden and in Paris where the US president apologised for the congressional logjam that delayed military support to Kyiv for six months.

Announcing a new $225 million (£177 million) package of support, including air defence missiles and protection for the Ukrainian electric grid, the US president said: “I apologise for the weeks of not knowing what’s going to pass in terms of funding because we had trouble getting the Bill that we had to pass that had the money in it.

“Some of our very conservative members were holding it up. But we got it done finally. We’re still in – completely, thoroughly.”

The six-month blockade was resolved in April with a new funding package designed to see Ukraine’s defences through to the presidential election in November.

Speaking later from Pointe du Hoc, a former German fortification above Omaha beach, Mr Biden channelled the spirit of D-Day troops and warned about present dangers to democracy and freedom.

“As we gather here today, it’s not just to honour those who showed such remarkable bravery that day, June 6, 1944,” he said.

“It’s to listen to the echo of their voices. They’re not asking us to scale these cliffs. They’re asking us to stay true to what America stands for.”

He made coded reference to Donald Trump, his election rival, but focused his attention on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“The most natural instinct is to walk away, to be selfish, to force our will upon others,” he said.

Jake Sullivan, Mr Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters the president intended to draw a “through line” between the Second World War, the Cold War, and the present conflict in Europe.

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden

The event, held metres from the clifftop, was attended by 150 guests including a US Army ranger veteran who was deployed to Normandy shortly after D-Day to relieve troops who had stormed the beaches.

The rare foreign trip in an election year will see Mr Biden meet Mr Macron for a state dinner on Saturday, before travelling to Italy for next week’s G7 summit.

Mr Biden also used his speech at the American D-Day commemoration ceremony on Thursday to hint at Trump, arguing against “isolationism” in American foreign policy.

Steven Spielberg, the American film director who created Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, was spotted helping the US president prepare for the speech.

Hillary Clinton, who unsuccessfully contested the 2016 election against Trump, was criticised for a ham-fisted attempt to link D-Day and this year’s vote.

“Eighty years ago today, thousands of brave Americans fought to protect democracy on the shores of Normandy,” she wrote. “This November, all we have to do is vote.”

Republicans called her “deranged” for an apparent attempt to directly compare Trump to Hitler.

Tommy Tuberville, the Republican senator for Alabama, said: “These Dems couldn’t be more dramatic and deranged.

“They’re comparing storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to voting against Trump.”

Meanwhile, Marsha Blackburn, another Republican senator, said: “How disrespectful to our Second World War heroes who faced unimaginable fear with immense courage 80 years ago today”.