The Trump presidency is just over a month old, however for most, the experience has felt like a whole presidential first term has passed. There is no escaping the juggernaut that is the Trump administration. When and where will the “Trump Train” stop?
In an interview on Thursday, US President Donald Trump stressed that the US nuclear arsenal needs to be at the “top of the pack,” stating that the United States had fallen behind in its weapons capacity. During the interview, Trump said “it would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.” A statement that echoed a tweet he posted a few weeks after his election victory.
Critics like Daryl Kimball, the Executive Director of the Independent Arms Control Association affirmed that “the US and Russia have far more weapons that is necessary to deter a nuclear attack by other, or another armed country.” Kimball continued his critique of the President’s remarks stating: “Mr Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons,” the group said in a statement.
In addition, the anti-nuclear group Ploughshares Fund, the US currently has 6,800 nuclear warheads, while Russia has 7,000. If these figures are anything to go by, the President of the United States is looking to play a dangerous game of Top Trumps – if you pardon the pun.
However, during the previous Obama administration, a strategic arms limitations treaty known as New Start was put in place which outlines, that by February 5th 2018, both countries must limit their arsenals of nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
Predictably, this treaty between the countries was met with disdain by the now President Trump, stating that it was a “one-sided deal,” and went on to say the treaty was “Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals.”
During the interview, the President went on to condemn North Korea’s recent set of ballistic missile tests, however he was quick to pass the buck to China by saying that they could get North Korea in line “very easily.”
Additionally, Trump went on to say that he was in favour of the European Union, stating: “I’m totally in favour of it,” he said of the EU. “I think it’s wonderful. If they’re happy, I’m in favour of it.”
These statements are in contradiction to the ones he made last month when he cited the European Union as being a “vehicle for Germany.”
Through the Trump presidential campaign, the President referred to Nuclear propagation as the “single biggest problem.” Ominously, he also added that he couldn’t rule out using nuclear weapons against Europe.
Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton repeatedly labelled him as “erratic” and lacking the diplomatic skills required to avoid a nuclear war during the presidential race.
She added, “a man who can be provoked by a single tweet should not have their fingers anywhere near the nuclear launch codes.”
Will Trump’s desire for more nuclear weapons spell a global arms race, or worse, another Cold War?