President Trump reportedly wanted to expand the United States’ nuclear arsenal by a factor of 10, a request that shocked military officials.
At a July meeting of top military brass, the president indicated that he wanted to dramatically expand the country’s nuclear capabilities after seeing data that showed the U.S. weapons stockpile decreasing over the past 50 years, NBC News reported.
Officials told the network that they were surprised by the president’s reaction and questioned his understanding of the issue. According to NBC News, officials said they heard Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump relationship with Tillerson has been tense for months: report Bill O’Reilly: With Trump, Tillerson coverage, the media takes us all for ‘morons’ Overnight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses ‘total confidence’ in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad MORE call the president a “moron” after that meeting.
Officials present at the meeting told NBC News that Trump referenced a point when the U.S. had 32,000 nuclear warheads in the late 1960s and said that he wanted to have that many now. The U.S. currently has 4,000 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
The officials added that they then explained to the president why such an expansion, which would violate existing treaties and weapons agreements, would not be possible legally, nor in the country’s best interest.
The report comes amid increased tensions with North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and as Trump mulls whether to certify Iran’s compliance with the landmark nuclear deal.
The Pentagon is currently undergoing a Nuclear Posture Review, expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year, to modernize the country’s arsenal within the parameters of nuclear treaties.