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President Donald Trump makes remarks during a meeting of his cabinet, including (L-R) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at the White House on July 31, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images)

Tillerson 'Moron' Comment Followed Trump's Call for Massive Nuclear Buildup: Report

President's call for tenfold increase in nuclear arsenal, say critics, would violate treaties, inflame tensions, and initiate new global arms race

Jake Johnson

After being shown an image charting the steadily falling size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal since the height of the Cold War during a meeting with top national security officials in July, President Donald Trump reportedly expressed support for a tenfold expansion of America's stockpile of nukes—a move critics said would spark a "global arms race" and dramatically increase the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.

First reported by NBC News on Wednesday, Trump's remarks apparently "surprised" military officials, who had to explain to the president "the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup."

NBC continued:

Some officials present said they did not take Trump’s desire for more nuclear weapons to be literally instructing the military to increase the actual numbers. But his comments raised questions about his familiarity with the nuclear posture and other issues, officials said.

Two officials present said that at multiple points in the discussion, the president expressed a desire not just for more nuclear weapons, but for additional U.S. troops and military equipment.

Any increase in America's nuclear arsenal would not only break with decades of U.S. nuclear doctrine but also violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. Nonproliferation experts warned that such a move could set off a global arms race.

It was after this meeting, NBC notes, that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron." Though the State Department later claimed Tillerson never used that type of language and denied it was said, the Secretary of State himself did not deny it when asked by reporters.

Trump's reported desire for a dramatic expansion of America's nuclear arsenal comes at a time of heightening tensions between the United States and North Korea. The U.S. added to these tensions late Tuesday by flying two strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula, a show of force that fell on the same day as the anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling party.

Paul Kawika Martin, senior director of policy and political affairs at Peace Action, told Common Dreams that any expansion of America's already "excessive" nuclear arsenal would "take funds away from true security needs and other taxpayer priorities like job creation, education, and infrastructure."

If implemented, Trump's proposal would "make Americans less safe, could cause another nuclear arms race, and would inflame tensions with North Korea and other countries," Martin concluded.


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'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

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