Trump administration mulling special negotiator for nuke talks with Russia: report

Trump administration mulling special negotiator for nuke talks with Russia: report
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The Trump administration is mulling hiring a special negotiator for nuclear talks with Russia as the last arms control treaty between the two nations is set to expire next year, Politico reported 

A high-level negotiator would be recruited to act as a special envoy for the negotiations with Russia, although Trump may tap the negotiator to work with China on a nuclear arms deal as well. Two former U.S. officials say the administration has not been able to find a person to hire for the position since the search began last year, according to Politico.

Former ambassador and nuclear negotiator Richard Burt, Treasury Department official Marshall Billingslea and former George W. Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley are among the names being mentioned as possibilities for the position, various sources told Politico. 

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The discussion comes at a time when the president is facing increasing pressure to extend the current arms control treaty, titled the New START, implemented under former President Obama in 2011. This treaty caps the number of deployed long-range nuclear warheads each country can own at 1,550 and the number of long-range delivery vehicles at 770.

Lawmakers on both sides are advocating for the treaty’s extension, and Russia has indicated it is willing to agree to that. But Trump has said the accord is not comprehensive enough and should include China. 

Some Republicans who agree the treaty should be broadened say it should include limitations for nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons, according to Politico. They have also said Trump’s move to broaden the accords would contradict the narrative that he's eager to please Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWest should echo Prague's Nemtsov remembrance Trump campaign sues New York Times for libel over 2019 op-ed Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE

The Hill reached out to the White House and the State Department for comment. The State Department deferred questions to the White House. 

National security adviser Robert O’Brien mentioned Tuesday that the administration is planning to work with the Russians on “nuclear disarmament issues.”

“And I think that’s something the Russians are interested in and something President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE is very interested in,” he said at the Atlantic Council, according to Politico.

But he added that "the Chinese are not interested in arms control."