News said the president called for the increase after he was
shown a chart indicating the stockpile of U.S. nuclear weapons
had slid from a high of 32,000 in the 1960s. Trump said he
wanted to have that same number now, NBC reported.
Speaking to reporters at the White House during a meeting with
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said the report
was not true.
"I never discussed increasing it. I want it in perfect shape.
That was just fake news by NBC," he said. "We don't need an
increase. But I want modernization and I want total
rehabilitation. It's got to be in tip-top shape."
The president's denial was buttressed by a statement from his
"Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the
U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false. This kind of
erroneous reporting is irresponsible," Defense Secretary Jim
Although U.S. presidents have modernized weapon stockpiles over
the years, any meaningful addition to the nuclear arsenal would
violate treaty agreements. The Federation of American Scientists
says the United States currently has about 4,000 nuclear
warheads earmarked for use in its military stockpile.
After the meeting in July, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
referred to Trump as a "moron," according to NBC. U.S. news
reports have painted the relationship between Trump and
Tillerson as tense.
The NBC report comes during a time of high tension between the
United States and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons
and missile programs, and just ahead of an expected announcement
from Trump on whether to decertify the international deal on
Iran's nuclear program.
Trump told Reuters in February that he wanted to ensure that the
U.S. nuclear arsenal was at the "top of the pack."
MSNBC reported in 2016 that as a candidate, Trump asked a
foreign policy adviser three times in a one-hour meeting why the
United States could not deploy its nuclear weapons.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Makini Brice and Susan Heavey;
editing by Tim Ahmann and Steve Orlofsky)
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