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Op-Ed: Trump claims U.S. is behind and needs larger nuclear arsenal

Some time ago, Trump said on the MSNBC Morning Joe show: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” When asked about a tweet he made in December in which he said that the U.S. should greatly strengthen its nuclear capacity ” until such time as the world comes to its sense regarding nukes”. Trump said that he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons. At the same time he claimed that the US had actually fallen behind in nuclear weapon capacity. Trump said: “I am the first one that would like to see … nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

According to the anti-nuclear group Ploughshares Russia has 7,000 warheads while the US has 6,800. Daryl Kimball head of the Independent Arms Control non-profit group said: “Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by another nuclear-armed country.” For some time, the US and Russia have had roughly comparable numbers of warheads. However, the U.S. is actually “ahead of the pack” in that is has the larger arsenal of deployed warheads compared to Russia.

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said in a press release: “President Trump’s assertions about nuclear weapons policy conveniently ignore the facts,” former Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), the executive director of the center, said in a statement. “Every world leader on Earth except for President Trump knows that the United States already has the ‘top of the pack’ nuclear arsenal. No U.S. military leader would trade our nuclear weapons for the Russian stockpile, let alone any other nuclear power’s arsenal.” While attention is being paid and anger expressed at Trump policies in other areas such as immigration the significance of his statement on the US nuclear program has been mostly overlooked. Bruce Blair a co-founder of Global Zero said: “Once again, President Trump has called for a new nuclear arms race — signaling a dangerous turn for global security. This would be an alarming reversal of decades of nuclear weapons reductions that should scare everyone.”

Trump also claimed that the new START agreement with Russia is a “one-sided deal”. However, the deal requires both countries to cap the number of warheads they deploy at the same amount. They already have roughly the same number of warheads. Yet Trump had tweeted: “Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal. We’re going to start making good deals.” The START deal requires that both US and Russia have equal numbers of nuclear warheads by February of 2018 and keep them that way for 10 years. Each side can have no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed missiles.

Blair claimed that the nuclear arms race that Trump’s policy could result in disaster: “The use of even a single nuclear weapon, anywhere in the world, would be a global humanitarian, environmental and economic disaster,” he said. “A nuclear build-up in the U.S., which would be followed by similar build-ups in other countries, only makes that nightmare scenario more likely.”

Blair said that some of Trump’s statements on START we “alternative facts: “New START imposes equal obligations on both the United States and Russia. The idea that it’s one-sided is one more ‘alternative fact’ from this administration that must be loudly rejected.”

The US is already in the process of a humongous one trillion dollar 30 year modernization program of its aging ballistic-missile subs, bombers, and land-based missiles. The military-industrial complex will no doubt be cheered by the fact that Trump seems to be suggesting even more expenditure in the nuclear weapons area. By this time, the Russians must be beginning to wonder what policies Trump will adopt that will improve relations with Russia. He seems to have changed his tune on NATO now praising it. He has also now several anti-Russia figures in his administration as discussed in a recent Digital Journal article.

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