‘Small Hands’ Don’t Like Small Nuclear Arsenals
By Hans M. Kristensen
According to an NBC News report, President Donald Trump said during a meeting at the Pentagon on July 20 that “he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” according to three officials who were in the room.
Trump’s statement came in response to a chart shown during the meeting on the history of the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Trump reportedly referenced the highest number on the chart – about 32,000 in the late 1960s – and “told his team he wanted the U.S. to have that many now, officials said.”
It is often a mystery how Trump reaches his conclusions and his statement about increasing the arsenal is clearly not based on rational reasoning or factual information. Presidential advisors at the meeting reportedly explained why an expansion was not feasible (that must have been an embarrassing moment) and officials said his comments “raised questions about his familiarity with the nuclear posture and other issues.”
Despite Trump’s fantasies, the United States is unlikely to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile. There are currently about 4,000 nuclear warheads in the Pentagon’s stockpile, of which roughly 1,800 are deployed on ballistic missiles and at bomber and fighter bases. The military says it has too many and could meet national and international commitments with up to one-third fewer deployed weapons. And the trend is that the stockpile will continue to decline over the next decade because of changes being made to the force structure as part of the current modernization program.
Fun facts added: The biggest stockpile increase in one year was 1959-1960 when the United States added 6,340 warheads. During the 72 years since the first production of nuclear weapons in 1945, the average number of nuclear weapons added to the U.S. …read more