President-elect Donald Trump unexpectedly tweeted in support of boosting the United States' nuclear capacity on Thursday, marking a potential reversal in U.S. policy.
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Thursday's tweet came "hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to enhance his country's nuclear forces," CNN reports. It drew criticism from experts like Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who told Business Insider that nuclear proliferation would be a "total catastrophe" for the U.S. and its allies abroad.
Citing Lewis, Business Insider explained:
Increasing nuclear arsenals could have a domino effect as other countries, including some US allies in the Middle East, demand their own arsenals.
"A large number of our other allies would want the same treatment immediately," Lewis said. "Probably lots of Middle Eastern states. I think you would get a lot of countries wanting nuclear weapons."
Others responded on Trump's preferred medium expressing similar fears.
— Global Zero (@globalzero) December 22, 2016
Is this tweet from Trump meaningless bluster, the prelude to World War III, or both? https://t.co/vrHzhbh5ul
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) December 22, 2016
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— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) December 22, 2016
— Diane Russell (@MissWrite) December 22, 2016
Isn't it comforting that, in a month, Donald J. Trump will be able to launch a nuclear weapon with a phone call?
— Ali Gharib (@Ali_Gharib) December 22, 2016
While Trump and Putin are nuclear-saber rattling, 6 brave foreign ministers are leading the counter-movement to ban nuclear weapons. pic.twitter.com/J9xd5pWesP
— ICAN (@nuclearban) December 22, 2016
Trump's statement re expansion of US nuclear capabilities is ridiculous and dangerous.
US nuclear capabilities are already enormous.
— Yannis Koutsomitis (@YanniKouts) December 22, 2016
Trump's previous statements on nuclear arms have been inconsistent at best.
As such, during the presidential election, the No Red Button campaign warned of the dangers of Trump having access to nukes.
"Donald Trump is weeks away from having the unchecked ability to light the world on fire," Meredith Horowski, the director of the campaign, told Common Dreams in October. "His flippant statements condoning nuclear violence and his penchant for revenge suggest that as president, he would do just that. He could launch thousands of nuclear weapons at any time—each one vastly more powerful than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima—and no one could stop him."