President Donald Trump reportedly demanded a tenfold increase in the size of the American nuclear arsenal this past summer.
During a meeting with several high-ranking national security advisers, the president responded to an image depicting the reduction in the overall size of the nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s by demanding a dramatic increase in America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, reported NBC Wednesday, citing three officials present at the time.
Officials explained to Trump that the U.S. military posture is stronger today than it was when the U.S. was building up its nuclear arsenal, but Trump was said to be adamant that the U.S. should obtain more nuclear weapons, as well as troops and military equipment.
After the meeting, during which the president was briefed on global force operations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron.” NBC has come under heavy fire from Trump and Tillerson for its reporting, with the former repeatedly calling the media outlet “fake news.”
A nuclear buildup could violate certain nonproliferation agreements and could, according to some observers, trigger a global arms race, inspiring both the Chinese and the Russians to increase the sizes of their nuclear arsenals. Russia has reduced the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile, and China has kept its nuclear arsenal small.
Some officials at the meeting reportedly did not take Trump’s interest in more nuclear weapons as a direct order to the military to actually increase the numbers. It is unclear though.
Trump has repeatedly signaled that he wants to enhance America’s nuclear capabilities. He emphasized the need for a modernized nuclear arsenal on Twitter in August, arguing the need to make it “far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”
“Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!” he explained in a follow-up tweet.
UPDATE: The president has denied the NBC report, claiming that it was “made up.” (RELATED: Trump Says NBC ‘Made Up’ Story Claiming He Wanted More Nukes)
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