US President Donald Trump
has denied reports that he once asked for a tenfold increase in his country’s nuclear weapons, saying he just wants the arsenal to be in “tip-top shape.”
“We won’t need an increase, but I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation. It’s got to be in tip-top shape,” Trump told reporters.
Trump made the comments in response to an exclusive NBC News
report on Wednesday that claimed he had surprised military
commanders in July by asking them for a tenfold increase in US nuclear weapons.
It was after this meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron,” according to the report.
Trump reacted harshly to the report, dismissing it as “pure fiction, made up to demean.” The Republican president threatened to use his authority to retaliate.
“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” he said in a tweet.
“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” he added.
Later on when reporters arrived at the White House to cover his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump called the report “disgusting” and said “people should look into it.”
Before becoming president, Trump had suggested that the US “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”
This is while any growth in America’s nuclear weapons stockpile amounts to a breach of international disarmament treaties signed by every US president since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
The US Defense Department is currently conducting a long-planned posture review, which Trump ordered in April and is expected to be finalized by the end of this year or early 2018.
Washington has also been upgrading its nuclear weapons. The Pentagon says it needs $350 billion to upgrade some 7,000 warheads in its arsenal along with the ageing US nuclear triad—land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), nuclear bombers and submarines. Some reports put the cost at around $1 trillion.