The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday abruptly called for the United States to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” until the rest of the world “comes to its senses” regarding nuclear weapons.
His comments on Twitter came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said strengthening his country’s nuclear capabilities should be a chief military objective in the coming year. The president-elect’s statement also followed his meetings a day earlier with top Pentagon officials and defense contractors.
Trump, who is spending the holidays at his palatial private club in Florida, did not expand on the actions he wants the United States to take or say why he raised the issue Thursday.
Spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation “particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes.” Miller said Trump sees modernizing the nation’s deterrent capability “as a vital way to pursue peace through strength.”
If Trump were to seek an expansion of the nuclear stockpiles, it would mark a sharp shift in U.S. national security policy. President Barack Obama has made nuclear non-proliferation a centerpiece of his agenda, calling in 2009 for the United States to lead efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons — a goal he acknowledged would not be accomplished quickly or easily.
Still, the United States has been moving forward on plans to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon planned to spend $108 billion over the next five years to sustain and improve its nuclear force.Speech