President-elect Donald Trump insists that America needs to increase its supply of nuclear weapons.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he tweeted on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a similar comment about his own nation’s nuclear supply during a speech earlier the same day, but it is unclear whether the two comments are related.
Trump’s message was “referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it – particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes,” said spokesman Jason Miller. The President-elect has also highlighted “the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength.”
America’s nuclear supply may be the best in the world, but it is aging rapidly and needs upgrades. Ballistic missile submarines and other weapons, built between 20 and 60 years ago, will soon reach the point where they are no longer useful. Modernizing the supply is estimated to cost nearly $1 trillion over the next three decades.
According to Miller, Trump’s comment was in no way a policy proposal nor does he advocate the use of nuclear weapons. He does, however, believe them to be vital in improving the stability of global relations.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows only five nations to maintain a nuclear arsenal: Russia, the US, Britain, China, and France. Nonproliferation experts and arms-control advocates believe that Trump’s message could cause tensions between the five nations. And they worry he may be thinking about breaching or withdrawing from nuclear arms agreements including the New START treaty signed with Russia in 2011.
“It is completely irresponsible for the president-elect or the president to make changes to US nuclear policy in 140 characters and without understanding the implications of statements like ‘expand the capacity,'” argues Arms Control Association director Daryl Kimball. “He must have leaders around the world trying to guess what he means. This is bush league.”
President Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund – an organization focused on restricting the spread of nuclear weapons – warns that Trump’s comment could lead to an arms race. “This is how arms races begin – with a battle of words. Neither side needs to be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear weapons we don’t need,” he said, referring to the USA and Russia.
Miles Pomper, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, argues that we must focus on preventing our enemies from acquiring nuclear weapons, not bolstering our own supply. “Expanding our nuclear arsenal will do nothing to prevent nuclear proliferation or prevent nuclear terrorism. We have more than enough nuclear weapons as it is,” said Pomper.
Trump’s controversial tweet followed meetings with Pentagon defense officials and top defense contractors like Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Editor’s note: Again we have critics who know nothing about negotiation or political power.
An American President not only has to maintain a nuclear program, he has to declare his willingness to use them if necessary. Any President (Obama for example) who is reluctant to use them, loses nuclear weapons as a deterrant, and ironically increases the chances of of war.