Donald Trump Has History of Contradictory Statements on Nuclear Weapons
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. drastically increase its nuclear arsenal follows a presidential campaign in which he made a number of contradictory statements about weapons of mass destruction.
As a candidate, he called nuclear proliferation the “single biggest threat” facing the world while also suggesting Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons as a defense. During one debate he ruled out a “first strike” but in the same breath said he would not take anything off the table.
Related: Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military
His desire to increase the country’s nuclear capabilities nearly tenfold, voiced during a meeting with top national security leaders in July, came as North Korea continued to escalate nuclear tensions with more weapons tests.
As a candidate and as president, Trump has been fairly consistent in calling for the modernization of the country’s nuclear weapons.
Here’s how Trump has talked about nuclear weapons since launching his presidential run and entering the White House.
Trump Claims to Have Ordered the Modernization of the Country’s Nuclear Weapons
As a Candidate, He Criticized the Country’s Nuclear Arsenal as Outdated
Trump Has Given A Variety of Answers on Using Nuclear Weapons
- “I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.” — Presidential Debate, Sept. 26, 2016
- “I don’t want to rule out anything. I will be the last to use nuclear weapons. It’s a horror to use nuclear weapons. The power of weaponry today is the single greatest problem that our world has.” — TODAY, April 28, 2016
- “I will do everything within my power never to be in a position where we have to use nuclear power because that’s a whole different ballgame.” — Interview with The New York Times, July 21, 2016
- “Nuclear should be off the table, but would there be a time when it would be used? Possibly. Possibly. … I would be the last one to use the nuclear weapons. Because that’s sort of like the end of the ballgame. … I’m not going to use nukes, but I’m not taking any cards off the table.” — Town Hall with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, March 30, 2016
- “Well, it is an absolute last stance. And, you know, I use the word unpredictable. You want to be unpredictable.” — Interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Jan. 3, 2016
- “It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them.” — Interview with GQ, Nov. 23, 2015
He Has Called Nuclear Proliferation the “Greatest Threat” Facing the U.S.
- “Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.” — Interview with The New York Times, March 26, 2016
- “Our single biggest problem we have is nuclear weapons, you know, countries with them.” — Town Hall on Fox News, March 3, 2016
- “The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear — nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That’s in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.” — Republican Presidential Debate, Dec. 15, 2015
But He Has Also Suggested Japan, South Korea and Even Saudi Arabia Should Have Them
- “As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody in the — we’re defending other countries. We are spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century. All I said is, we have to renegotiate these agreements, because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea and many other places. We cannot continue to afford — she took that as saying nuclear weapons.” — Presidential Debate, Oct. 19, 2016
CNN’s WOLF BLITZER: But — but you’re ready to let Japan and South Korea become nuclear powers?
TRUMP: I am prepared to — if they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world.
You know, when people look at our military and they say, “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic,” they have many, many times — you know, we spend many times what any other country spends on the military. But it’s not really for us. We’re defending other countries.
So all I’m saying is this: They have to pay.