- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

President Trump rejected a report Wednesday that he wants a ten-fold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, saying instead he wants to upgrade and modernize the current weapons stockpile.

“I never discussed increasing it,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “Right now we have so many nuclear weapons, I want them in perfect condition, perfect shape. That’s the only thing I’ve ever discussed.”

NBC News reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson were present at the meeting and were “surprised” by Mr. Trump’s request. After explaining the complications of such a military buildup to the president, officials say there is no expansion planned at this time.

The president called the NBC report “fake news.”

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Mr. Trump said.

He added, “When they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it’s totally unnecessary. I know what we have right now.”

“We won’t need an increase, but I want total modernization and I want total rehabilitation,” the president said. “It’s got to be in tip-top shape.”

President Barack Obama approved a costly decades-long plan to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Trump also took to Twitter to deny the NBC story and question the government’s issuance of broadcasting licenses.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a “tenfold” increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” he tweeted. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” he added.

The meeting took place on July 20, and it was as officials were leaving the meeting when Mr. Tillerson reportedly called Mr. Trump a “moron.” Those comments became public last week in a separate NBC News report, but a spokeswoman for the secretary of state denied he ever made such comments. Mr. Tillerson also said at a press conference last week that he would not engage in such “petty nonsense.”

The report also said that any type of nuclear buildup could violate international disarmament treaties going back to former President Ronald Reagan.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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