US, Russia in exchange of words over nuclear

US, Russia in exchange of words over nuclear

US, Russia in exchange of words over nuclear

AFP photo

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called for an expansion of the United States’ nuclear capabilities on Dec. 22, to which Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was “nothing unusual” in these statements. 

In his Twitter post, Trump said Dec. 22, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” but gave no further details. 

It was not clear what prompted his comment. However, earlier on Dec. 22, Putin said that Russia needed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces.” 

Asked about the tweet, Trump spokesman Jason Miller later said Trump was “referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it - particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes.” 

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, 2017, also has “emphasized the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength,” spokesman Jason Miller said. 

Hours after Trump’s tweet, Putin said Dec. 23 he saw “nothing unusual” in Trump’s pledge to strengthen the U.S. nuclear forces, calling the statement is in line with the U.S. president-elect’s campaign promises.

Speaking at an annual news conference on Dec. 23, Putin also said Russia’s military was stronger than that of any potential aggressor, though he admitted that the U.S. has a bigger military.

“Indeed, they have more missiles, more submarines and more aircraft carriers, we aren’t arguing with that, but we are simply stronger than any aggressor,” The Associated Press quoted Putin as saying. 

Putin said the Russian military modernization helped strengthen the nation’s nuclear forces.

Miller told Reuters that Trump was not advocating the use of nuclear weapons, and said Trump’s comments were not meant to be read as a new policy proposal. 

-Experts wondered whether Trump’s brief tweet meant he wanted to breach limits imposed on U.S. strategic weapons and delivery systems by the 2011 New START treaty with Russia - or planned to expand the non-deployed stockpile. 

“It is completely irresponsible for the president-elect or the president to make changes to U.S. nuclear policy in 140 characters and without understanding the implications of statements like ‘expand the capacity,’” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a leading proponent of arms control based in Washington. 

“He must have leaders around the world trying to guess what he means,” Kimball said in an interview. “This is bush league.” 

Putin also said Dec. 23 that Trump accurately read the popular mood in the United States to win the election, although “nobody except us” believed in his success.

He “precisely felt the mood of the society and... went to the end, though nobody believed that he would win except us,” Putin said.