- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump told an MSNBC host Friday to “let it be an arms race” when asked to clarify a tweet he sent a day earlier about expanding the United States’ nuclear capability.

“Let it be an arms race … we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” Mr. Trump told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, she reported on “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Trump had raised the issue in a post on Twitter Thursday.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he had said.

Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday on NBC’s “Today” program that there is not going to be an arms race and that Mr. Trump was simply putting other countries on notice.

“Other countries need to be put on notice that he’s not going to sit back and allow them to undermine our safety, our sovereignty,” Mr. Spicer said. “He is going to match other countries and take action.”

“There’s been several countries, Russia among them, that have talked about expanding their nuclear capability,” Mr. Spicer said, saying there is not going to be an arms race.

“There’s not going to be, because he’s going to ensure that other countries get the message that he’s not going to sit back and allow that,” he said.

“And what’s going to happen is they will come to their senses, and we will all be just fine,” Mr. Spicer said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his country’s nuclear missiles can penetrate any missile defense, a day after saying strengthening the country’s nuclear capability should be a chief objective for 2017.

Mr. Putin also said Friday at his annual news conference that he sees “nothing unusual” in Mr. Trump’s comments on strengthening the United States’ nuclear capability and that it’s in line with what the president-elect said on the campaign trail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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