Nuclear experts respond to Trump’s call for thousands more nukes

NBC reported on Wednesday morning that President Donald Trump told a room full of national security officials that he wanted a “nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal” during a meeting this summer.

In addition to catching Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff off guard, Trump’s request stunned and concerned nuclear experts.

β€œI do not think it is worth even analyzing this as any kind of realistic policy proposal. It is impossible,” nuclear weapons historian Alex Wellerstein, of the Stevens Institute of Technology, said. β€œIt is just a sign of his lack of understanding of the issues, and perhaps a window into his own insecurities.”

In response to the NBC report, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association Kingston Reif tweeted, “The insanity and folly of this of course cannot be overstated.”

Others chalk the remarks up to not only Trump’s ignorance of nuclear policy, but also his approach to management and negotiating.

“Trump’s thing is to be more brazen, more outlandish than others. I don’t blame Tillerson for calling him a ‘moron’ after this,” Jeffrey Lewis, professor at Middlebury College’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies, tweeted.

Still, Lewis used Tillerson’s alleged comments towards Trump to explain the absurdity of the president’s reasoning.

“But Trump’s reason for wanting more nuclear weapons — he doesn’t want to be at the bottom of the curve — is, well, ‘moronic,'” Lewis said.

Major international nuclear powers have reduced their stockpiles over the years, which analysts say is a sign of stability in the international arena. Both Republicans and Democrats have supported disarmament and nonproliferation policy in the U.S.

“The downward trend in warhead numbers is a pillar of international stability. A radical reversal of this bipartisan policy is folly,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow for nuclear and defense policy at the Federation of American Scientists.

President Trump has repeatedly called for the U.S. to add to its nuclear arsenal and has put forth scenarios in which he might want to use them several times since his presidential campaign. Still, he denied the NBC report that he wanted to increase the arsenal, calling it “fake news” and threatening to take the network off the air.