Trump's claims on nuclear modernization crumble under scrutiny

Amid escalating tensions with North Korea, President Trump on Wednesday boasted that he had strengthened the United States' nuclear capabilities significantly and had added to its ability to take out foreign threats.

Trump wrote at 4:56 a.m: "My first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. We don't have a bigger or more powerful nuclear arsenal today", Harrison said.

It's still very much around, unimaginably powerful and ready for use at a moment's notice.

Donald Trump spent the morning tweeting away, which wouldn't ordinarily be especially interesting, except for one online missive about nuclear weapons.

The timing was fitting; in recent months, North Korea has been carrying out more intercontinental ballistic missile tests and taking aggressive stances toward neighboring countries and western foes. Instead of the silo-based interceptors being used, some argue a more fruitful approach would be to destroy or disable such missiles before they can be launched, possibly by cyberattack.


Pyongyang threatened to attack Guam after Trump told reporters on Tuesday that further threats from North Korea would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen before". In the memorandum, Trump directed the secretary of defense to initiate a new review.

While in late January, the President did give orders to the Pentagon to review America's nuclear arsenal, while giving General Mattis until March to submit a plan to improve overall readiness in the military, that plan was not scheduled to be implemented until 2019.

Trump's nuclear order was what's referred to as a presidential memorandum. "But it's going to take about three decades before all of these modernization programs are complete". There have been no significant changes in America's nuclear power as a result.

Contrary to what Trump might have his supporters believe, the "modernization" of the USA nucelar arsenal actually began under President Obama. At the time, the CBO estimated that the entire project would cost around $355 billion (that total later ballooned to the aforementioned $1 trillion). As early as June 2015, Trump said, "Even our nuclear arsenal doesn't work". A July report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute notes that a new intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled to replace the Minuteman III in 2028, a next-generation ballistic submarine is expected to supplant the OH class in 2031 and the successor to B-52 bombers will become available in the 2030s and 2040s.

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