President-elect Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he will look to “strengthen and expand” the US’s nuclear capability.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted the day after meeting with several military advisers.
Trump’s 140-character proclamation left questions as to whether the President-elect was calling for increasing the number of nuclear warheads in the US arsenal — which would run counter US-led efforts to reduce global nuclear stockpiles — or simply arguing for a modernization of the nuclear weapons program.
Tthe tweet came less than 24 hours after the President-elect met with three US Air Force generals for a discussion that was expected to include talk of modernizing the US nuclear triad, according to a US military official, meaning the ability to deploy nuclear weapons from land, sea and air.
Trump during the campaign argued that the US needs to modernize its aging nuclear infrastructure.
“Our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen,” Trump said during his second debate in October against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “We are old. We’re tired. We’re exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing.”
America’s nuclear submarines are all more than 30 years old and its most dominant bomber jets remain the 60-year-old B-52s. The Pentagon has also called for upgrading the US arsenal of ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon has estimated that it will need to spend as much as $18 billion per year over the next 15 years — for a total of $270 billion — to modernize the nuclear triad.
Trump’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment.