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Trump dismisses nuclear buildup report, reverses stance

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed his position on the need for a massive buildup of the American nuclear weapons arsenal, calling such a move "unnecessary" after a report emerged alleging he told his team he wanted just that.

Trump dismissed as "fake news" a NBC News report that he signaled in late July to senior national security officials his desire for a major increase in the number of American nuclear weapons.

That report, citing multiple officials who were in the room for the briefing in question, describes Trump making his desires known after being shown a slide depicting the reduction in U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s.

The United States had about 32,000 nuclear warheads then and has drawn down to around 4,000 warheads now.

Trump, NBC reported, told his national security team he wanted to return to 1960s levels -- an eightfold increase that would violate numerous treaties and come with a massive price tag that would blow up the annual Pentagon and federal budgets.

Trump's first attack on the report and the network came Wednesday morning on Twitter, with him threatening to target NBC's "License." That was taken by some as his latest attack on the First Amendment, and he again allowed his frustration with the media to show later in the day.

"It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write," he said, referring to the NBC News report.

At the start of an otherwise set of closed-door meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he told reporters a buildup would be "totally unnecessary."

He contended he favors modernizing the 4,000 or so now in the stockpile. Those, he said, he wants in "tiptop shape," according to a pool report.

"I want them in perfect shape," the commander in chief said of existing U.S. nuclear weapons.

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