Sunday 22 October 2017

Trump asks for increase in nuclear stockpile, say sources

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US President Donald Trump as US first lady Melania Trump looks on as they meet about the Nafta trade agreement at the White House in Washington yesterday Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US President Donald Trump as US first lady Melania Trump looks on as they meet about the Nafta trade agreement at the White House in Washington yesterday Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Dean Grey

US president Donald Trump wanted to dramatically increase the country's nuclear arsenal, he said in a meeting with his national security advisers in July, NBC News has reported, citing three officials who were present.

His reported comments come as tensions with North Korea remained high and the US president was expected to make an announcement on whether to 'decertify' the international deal surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.

The president spoke in July after being shown a chart indicating that the stockpile of US nuclear weapons had slid from a high of 32,000 in the 1960s. Mr Trump said he wanted to have that same number now, NBC reported.

The United States currently has about 4,000 nuclear warheads earmarked for use in its military stockpile, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

In a post on Twitter yesterday the president said: "Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a 'tenfold' increase in our US nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!"

Mr Trump told Reuters in February that he wanted to ensure that the US nuclear arsenal was at the "top of the pack".

Although US presidents have modernised weapons stockpiles over the years, adding to the nuclear arsenal or building a prohibited type of weapon would be a violation of treaty agreements, according to NBC.

After the meeting, secretary of state Rex Tillerson referred to Mr Trump as a "moron", according to NBC. US news reports have painted the relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Tillerson as tense.

MSNBC reported in 2016 that as a candidate, Mr Trump asked a foreign policy adviser three times in a one-hour meeting why the United States could not deploy its nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, a new poll has found that North Korea's nuclear weapons development is spooking most Americans and two-thirds of them say President Trump's war of words with the regime is making the situation worse.

Threats

Those are the findings of a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, as tensions between the adversaries escalate and North Korea comes closer to its goal of having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the continental US.

The poll was conducted about a week after Mr Trump intensified rhetorical exchanges with his counterpart Kim Jong-un, dubbing him "Rocket Man" and threatening in a speech at the UN to "totally destroy" North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself and its allies.

Mr Kim responded with dire threats and insults of his own, calling Trump "deranged".

The poll found that 65pc of Americans think Mr Trump's comments have made the ­situation between the US and North Korea worse.

Irish Independent

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