If one needs evidence of how President-elect Donald Trump and current President Barack Obama differ on foreign policy, look to nuclear armament. Whereas Obama has committed the United States to reducing its nuclear warhead stockpiles, Trump is calling for the country to strengthen its capability.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 22, not one month before taking office.
According to the BBC, Trump’s tweet comes hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for his country to expand its own nuclear development.
"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," Putin said.
According to The Washington Post, the United States currently has 5,000 nuclear warheads in its active arsenal, with about 1,550 strategic warheads deployed. Furthermore, since President George H.W. Bush was in office, the country has not built any new nuclear warheads.
Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, estimates that modernizing America’s aging nuclear arsenal will cost at least $1 trillion over 20 years.
“If Donald Trump is concerned about the rising costs of the F-35, he will be shocked by the skyrocketing costs of the current plan to modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Kimball said. “Trump and his people need to explain the basis of his cryptic tweet. What does he mean by expand, and at what cost?”
David Axelrod, the former senior aide to Obama, took to Twitter in response to Trump’s comment.
“Who ever thought the new nuclear arms race would be announced on Twitter?”