"Let it be an arms race," President-elect Donald Trump reportedly told MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, doubling down on recent comments that indicate that Trump intends to expand the United States' nuclear arsenal.
A day earlier, Trump tweeted that the United States needs to "greatly strengthen and expand" its nuclear capabilities until "the world comes to its senses" about nuclear weapons. Trump's comments about nuclear weapons come shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for Russia to strengthen its own nuclear capabilities, Daily Mail reports.
Sean Spicer, Trump's incoming press secretary, made an appearance on "Morning Joe" defending Trump's tweet. During a commercial break, Spicer put host Brzezinski on the phone with Trump, who reportedly told her that he would welcome a nuclear arms race with rival countries.
"The president-elect told you what?" asked co-host Joe Scarborough.
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"'Let it be an arms race, we will outmatch them at every pass,'" Brzezinski quoted Trump as saying during their call. "'And outlast them all.'"
Days earlier, Putin made comments indicating that he would seek to expand his own country's nuclear arsenal.
"We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems," said the Russian leader in a speech.
Spicer backed Trump's comments, saying that "a few countries" including Russia and China had to understand that Trump would not "sit back" if they expanded their arsenal of nuclear weapons.
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Spicer indicated that Trump intended the comments to make other world powers "recognize that this is not a smart move."
"Increasing the nuclear stockpile around the globe is not good for anybody," the incoming press secretary added.
Trump has previously suggested that more countries may also need nuclear weapons, including Japan and South Korea, according to CBS News.
"You have so many countries already - China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia - you have so many countries right now that have them," said Trump during a town hall in March. "Now, wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?"
After Trump's recent comments about nuclear capabilities, Putin said that he was surprised.
"I was a bit surprised by the statements from some representatives of the current U.S. administration who for some reason started to prove that the U.S. military was the most powerful in the world," said Putin, who added that the president-elect's statements about nuclear weapons were "nothing special."
"[Trump] spoke during his election campaign about the need to beef up the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the armed forces," the Russian president said.