Trump: US must strengthen nuclear capability

2016-12-23 07:46
(Evan Vucci, AP)

(Evan Vucci, AP)

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Washington - President-elect Donald Trump has abruptly called for the United States to "greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability" until the rest of the world "comes to its senses" regarding nuclear weapons.

His comments on Twitter came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said strengthening his country's nuclear capabilities should be a chief military objective in the coming year.

The president-elect's statement also followed his meetings a day earlier with top Pentagon officials and defence contractors.

Trump, who is spending the holidays at his palatial private club in Florida, did not expand on the actions he wants the US to take or say why he raised the issue on Thursday.

Improve nuclear force

Spokesperson Jason Miller said the president-elect was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation "particularly to and among terrorist organisations and unstable and rogue regimes." Miller said Trump sees modernising the nation's deterrent capability "as a vital way to pursue peace through strength."

If Trump were to seek an expansion of the nuclear stockpiles, it would mark a sharp shift in US national security policy. President Barack Obama has made nuclear non-proliferation a centrepiece of his agenda, calling in 2009 for the US to lead efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons — a goal he acknowledged would not be accomplished quickly or easily.

Still, the US has been moving forward on plans to upgrade its ageing nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon planned to spend $108bn over the next five years to sustain and improve its nuclear force.

The US and Russia hold the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons. In 2010, the two countries signed the New START treaty capping the number of nuclear warheads and missile launchers each country can possess. The agreement is in effect until 2021 and can be extended for another five years.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  nuclear

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