Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Donald Trump says he will expand US nuclear arsenal 'far in excess of anybody else'

'We will always be number one in that category, certainly as long as I'm president,' Mr Trump says

Emily Shugerman
New York
Monday 12 February 2018 21:40 GMT
Trump on US nuclear arsenal: 'we're going to be far, far in excess of anybody else'

President Donald Trump has said he will expand and update the US nuclear arsenal in “far, far in excess of anybody else," in a departure from nearly 50 years of US policy.

“We’re going to have the strongest military we’ve ever had by far,” Mr Trump told reporters. He added that he would increase the country's arsenals of “virtually every weapon,” including a “brand new nuclear force”.

"We will always be number one in that category, certainly as long as I'm president. We're going to be far, far in excess of anybody else,” he said.

Mr Trump said the move was a response to other countries' decision to increase their nuclear stockpiles – a likely reference to North Korea, which has been testing nuclear weapons and missiles at a surprisingly rapid rate.

"Frankly, we have to do it because others are doing it," Mr Trump said. "If they stop, we'll stop, but they're not stopping. So if they're not going to stop, we're going to be so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you've never seen before."

The President said he would be open to reducing America's stockpile, but only if other countries did so first. The US, he said, “won’t lead the way”.

The comments came as Mr Trump debuted his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. The budget includes a $716bn spending request for defence –an increase of $195bn over the next two years.

The budget also suggests cutting domestic spending, proposing the elimination of 62 federal programmes and agencies and $1.7 trillion in cuts to entitlement programmes like Medicare. The proposal also suggests cutting the international operations budget by almost one-third, slashing funding to the State Department, foreign aid and other overseas programmes.

Donald Trump at the State of the Union: North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland

More than 150 retired U.S. generals and admirals and more than 1,200 veterans sent a letter to Mr Trump on Sunday, asking him not to slash spending on diplomacy.

“Today’s crises do not have military solutions alone,” the veterans wrote.

They added: “We call on you to ensure our nation also has the civilian resources necessary to protect our national security, compete against our adversaries, and create opportunities around the world.”

The US is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, an agreement by nearly 200 countries to further the goal of nuclear disarmament worldwide.

Every President since Lyndon Johnson has made cuts to the US’s nuclear weapons stockpile, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Republican Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush the deepest cuts by far. President Barack Obama reduced the arsenal by 553 weapons, leaving the US with 4,018.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in