Iran is accusing the U.S. of threatening Russia with the use of new nuclear weapons following the Trump administration's call to expand nuclear capabilities in an aim to deter Moscow, Reuters reported Sunday.
“The Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reportedly said in a televised speech.
Rouhani is a key figure who helped pave the way for the talks that led to the 2015 nuclear deal with several other global powers.
His comments came after the Defense Department on Friday unveiled a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), its first in eight years, which calls for developing smaller nukes in a bid to counter Russia.
Rouhani argued the policy is a hypocritical approach coming from a country that has repeatedly warned Tehran about the destructiveness of such powerful weapons.
“The same people who supposedly believe that using weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity ... are talking about new weapons to threaten or use against rivals,” he continued, according to Reuters.
Another top Iranian leader, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, had also reportedly raised concern that such an approach by the U.S. would increase the risk of “bringing humankind closer to annihilation.”
President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE, meanwhile, applauded the new policy.
“Over the past decade, despite United States efforts to reduce the roles and numbers of nuclear weapons, other nuclear nations grew their stockpiles, increased the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and—in some cases—pursued the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other nations,” Trump said in a statement.
“We cannot afford to let [the U.S. nuclear arsenal] become obsolete,” Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon.
“Our strategy will ensure Russia understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable,” the document states.
Greg Weaver, the Pentagon’s deputy director of strategic capabilities, framed the move as a decision that is in response to "Russian initiative" and not the kickoff of an arms race.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday expressed disappointment at the U.S. policy, saying the contents come off as confrontational and anti-Russian, according to the report.