Thursday 24 August 2017

Trump: US must strengthen and expand nuclear capability

Mr Trump sent the tweet a day after meeting key defence figures (AP)
Mr Trump sent the tweet a day after meeting key defence figures (AP)

US president-elect Donald Trump has said America must "greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability".

Mr Trump tweeted that the US must bolster its arsenal "until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes".

The tweet comes a day after he met with several military procurement officers to discuss defence budgets, including Lt Gen Jack Weinstein, the deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration for the Air Force.

During the election campaign, Mr Trump had suggested that the US should expand its arsenal and mused that the world would be "better off" if other countries, including Japan and South Korea, had nuclear capabilities.

Mr Trump's transition website has said he "recognises the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyberattacks", adding that he will modernise the nuclear arsenal "to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent".

Beyond that, Mr Trump has offered few specifics, either as a candidate or during the transition.

His vanquished campaign rival Hillary Clinton repeatedly cast the Republican as too erratic and unpredictable to have control of the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Ten former nuclear missile launch operators also wrote that Mr Trump lacks the temperament, judgment and diplomatic skill to avoid nuclear war.

The president-elect spent the day at his private estate in South Florida, where he has met advisers and interviewing potential Cabinet nominees.

He is also hiring more White House staff, announcing that campaign manager Kellyanne Conway will join him in the West Wing as a counsellor.

Ms Conway, a longtime Republican pollster, is widely credited with helping guide him to victory. She also is a frequent guest on television news programmes.

Mr Trump called Ms Conway "a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda".

The president-elect has spent part of the week discussing national security issues, including the deadly attack on a Christmas market in Germany.

He called the violence an "attack on humanity" and appeared to suggest a willingness to move ahead with his campaign pledge to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from coming to the United States.

Mr Trump proposed the Muslim ban during the Republican primary campaign, drawing sharp criticism from both parties.

During the general election, he shifted his rhetoric to focus on temporarily halting immigration from an unspecified list of countries with ties to terrorism, though he did not disavow the Muslim ban, which is still prominently displayed on his campaign website.

The president-elect, when asked if the attack in Berlin would cause him to evaluate the proposed ban or a possible registry of Muslims in the United States, said: "You know my plans. All along, I've been proven to be right, 100% correct."

He added "what's happening is disgraceful", and deemed the violence "an attack on humanity" which has "got to be stopped".

A transition spokesman said later that Mr Trump's plans "might upset those with their heads stuck in the politically correct sand".

Jason Miller said: "President-elect Trump has been clear that we will suspend admission of those from countries with high terrorism rates and apply a strict vetting procedure for those seeking entry in order to protect American lives."

Ms Conway said on ABC's Good Morning America that Mr Trump is "the guy out there saying we need extreme vetting policies, that we need to have a better system vis a vis countries that train, harbour and export terrorists".

She added: "He said during the campaign long after he originally proposed that that this would be more strictly tied to countries where we know they have a history of terrorism and that this is not a complete ban."

AP

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