Donald Trump fired off a tweet Thursday on toughening up the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities, saying the United States must “greatly strengthen and expand” them -- at least until the rest of the world “comes to its senses.”
Mr. Trump’s transition website takes a more cautious tone on the country’s nuclear arsenal. The president-elect “recognizes the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyberattacks” the site says, but he would modernize the nuclear arsenal “to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent.”
The president-elect has also pushed to use nuclear weapons during the campaign trail, even suggesting earlier this year that nukes could be fair game in the fight against terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
In an interview with MSNBC in March, Mr. Trump asked, “Somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?”
Later, he asked of nuclear weapons, if the U.S. isn’t going to use them, “then why are we making them? Why do we make them?”
“Look, nuclear should be off the table,” the then-GOP candidate said. “But would there be a time when it could be used, possibly, possibly?”
Mr. Trump’s tweet follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own urging of his country to beef up its nuclear arsenal.
On Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse news service, Putin gave a speech saying “we need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems.”
The president-elect met Wednesday with members of his national security team Wednesday and received an intelligence briefing during his stay at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort.