The president-elect said that he did not mind an arms race because it would only benefit the United States. A spokesman explained that Trump intends to block other countries from boosting their own nuclear arsenals.
US President-elect Donald Trump said on Friday he would welcome an international nuclear arms race in an interview with broadcaster MSNBC. The network had asked Trump to elaborate on comments made a few days earlier on Twitter, wherein the president-elect promoted nuclear proliferation.
Trump wrote that the US "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." The president-elect did not follow up with a clarification on who or what his comments were targeting.
The comment on Twitter set shares in uranium production firms surging and caused a great deal of alarm amongst non-proliferation experts. When MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski asked Trump for details during a telephone call, he responded "let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."
Trump did not say who "them" could be, but his original comment came on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow should also boost its nuclear arsenal. Despite this coincidence, Putin told the press that he didn't find Trump's comment out of line and that Russia did not feel threatened by the United States.
Trump spokesman: President-elect
The president-elect's spokesman Sean Spicer sought to calm public fears on Friday by explaining that Trump was "going to ensure that other countries get the message that he's not going to sit back and allow" them to build up their nuclear stockpiles, thus ensuring peace. Spicer implied that "other countries" meant Russia and China.
"And what's going to happen is they will come to their senses, and we will all be just fine," Spicer told NBC.
The United States has a stockpile of some 6,970 nuclear warheads, and Russia 7,300. The two nations began to cut down on nuclear spending in the 1970s due to the many problems, both existential and economic, caused by the Cold War arms race. In 1987 and 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union signed arms reductions treaties that have largely set the tone for nuclear policy over the past three decades.
es/kms (AP, Reuters)