President Donald Trump has said he wants the United States to expand its nuclear arsenal, in his first comments on the issue since taking office, BBC reports. Mr Trump said the US had “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity” and must be ”top of the pack”.
It would be “wonderful, a dream” if no country had nuclear weapons, he said, in a wide-ranging Reuters interview. The US has 6,800 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,000, according to the US nonpartisan Arms Control Association.
The president expressed concern the US was lagging behind on the issue. “I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.
“It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.” His latest comments on nuclear weapons echo a tweet he sent a few weeks after his election win, in which he pledged to increase the country’s capability.
A new strategic arms limitation treaty between the US and Russia, known as New Start, requires that by 5 February of next year, both countries must limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
During Mr Trump’s campaign he referred to nuclear proliferation as the “single biggest problem” facing the world, but also said he could not rule out using nuclear weapons against Europe.
His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, repeatedly cast Mr Trump during the campaign as too erratic and lacking in the diplomatic skills required to avoid a nuclear war.
She mocked him by saying “a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes”.