Trump calls for expanded US nuclear capability

Trump calls for expanded US nuclear capability

Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:31PM

US President-elect Donald Trump has called for the country to greatly expand its nuclear weapons capabilities until the world “comes to its senses,” an apparent reversal of a decades-long reduction of the US atomic arsenal.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump said Thursday in a post on Twitter.

The tweet came less than 24 hours after Trump met with a dozen Pentagon officials on Wednesday for a discussion that was expected to include talk of modernizing the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Trump also met the chief executives of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the country’s two largest arms manufacturers.

The Pentagon wants to replace or modernize its nuclear attack force, which is expected to reach the end of its useful life during the next decade. Experts estimate the program will cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

The modernization plan has come under criticism from opponents of nuclearization, who warn it may prompt a new arms race with Russia and China.

Trump’s comments came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country’s arsenal should be strengthened.

The US currently has an arsenal of about 7,000 nuclear warheads, second only to Russia, which has a few hundred more.

Washington and Moscow finalized New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) five years ago. The nuclear arms reduction treaty was signed in 2010. The treaty entered into force in 2011 and is expected to last at least until 2021.

Nearly 26 years after the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, Washington and Moscow reportedly still have some 2,000 atomic weapons ready to fly at a moment’s notice to destroy each other.

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