Trump: US 'Must Greatly Strengthen and Expand Its Nuclear Capabilities'

Posted at 12:25 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 13:25:33-05

President-elect Donald Trump wants the United States to grow its nuclear capability, he tweeted Thursday, a position that would represent a change from years of American nuclear policy.


"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes," Trump tweeted.


Trump's tweet, just before noon on the East Coast, didn't explain how he plans to increase U.S. nuclear capability or what threat prompted his statement, nor did he immediately follow up.


He met with Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein on Wednesday at his estate in Florida.


The U.S. and Russia have about 93 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists, which was founded by scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project in 1945 and seeks to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons and stop other threats to national and international security.


Both nations' stockpiles have sharply decreased, to under 10,000 since the mid-1980s, according to the FAS. The U.S. and Soviet Union held a summit in Iceland in 1986 that eventually resulted in several arms control agreements, and both nations have reduced the number of weapons in their possession through today.


President Barack Obama, who leaves office in under a month, wrote in an April op-ed that nuclear proliferation and the potential use of those weapons is the most dangerous threat to global security and peace in the world.


Obama negotiated a treaty with Russia in 2010 that limited the number of strategic warheads the nations can possess to 1,550, down from 2,200. He also led an international coalition that secured a much-criticized agreement with Iran to pull back its nuclear program in exchange for the end to many economic sanctions.


Trump's transition website says he "recognizes the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyberattacks," adding that he will modernize the nuclear arsenal "to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent." Beyond that, he has offered few specifics, either as a candidate or during the transition.


Trump's position on nuclear weapons was a matter of some speculation during his campaign for president. He was sometimes asked if he would swear off using nuclear weapons, and repeatedly said that he would not, including at the first debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


"I can't take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries, you look at North Korea, we're doing nothing there," Trump said.


Clinton argued that Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and should not have access to the nuclear codes.


"It's not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin," she said in June.

Source: Trump: US 'Must Greatly Strengthen and Expand Its Nuclear Capabilities' | NBC Chicago 
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