Trump’s Casual Riffs on Nuclear Arms Race Leave Many Startled

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The president-elect had alarmed and perplexed some experts and others in Washington when he pronounced via Twitter on Thursday that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” says Politico. He further escalated his call on Friday, telling the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” that he is fine with the country taking part in an “arms race” if it puts the U.S. in a stronger position against foreign adversaries. “Let it be an arms race,” Trump said. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

After the remark was reported on MSNBC, though, incoming Trump press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that the remarks came from a “private conversation” with “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski. While he told the “Today” Show’s Matt Lauer that “there is not going to be” an arms race, he told CNN that Trump is not going to “take anything off the table,” either. It remains unclear where the president-elect stands, but given longstanding bipartisan support for preventing nuclear escalation, if followed through Trump’s statements would represent an extraordinary shift in how the U.S. approaches the role of weapons of mass destruction in its own defenses and throughout the world. Rachel Maddow, another MSNBC host, told the Trump team’s Kellyanne Conway, “There are a lot of people hiding under the bed right now because it doesn’t seem like he knows what he’s talking about on this issue.”

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