Trump ‘arms race’ comment sows more doubt on N-policy

WEST PALM BEACH: US President-elect Donald Trump sowed more doubt about his position on nuclear proliferation on Friday, reportedly welcoming an arms race even as his spokesman insisted that an atomic weapons build-up was not likely to happen.
Trump, who takes office on January 20, caused alarm on Thursday on Twitter, saying the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
On Friday, he had an off-air phone conversation about the tweet with MSNBC TV host Mika Brzezinski, who said Trump told her: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” MSNBC did not play his comments on air.
But Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said in a round of television interviews on Friday that Trump’s comments were meant to send a general message of strength to countries like Russia and China rather than indicate the United States planned to build up its nuclear capabilities.
“He is going to do what it takes to protect this country and if another country or countries want to threaten our safety and sovereignty, he is going to do what it takes,” Spicer said on CNN.
“If another country expands theirs (nuclear capability), the United States will act in kind … But I do believe that it won’t happen because I think what they have seen, domestically and internationally, is this is a man of action,” Spicer said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, at his annual news conference in Moscow on Friday, said he saw nothing new or remarkable about Trump’s tweet on Thursday, and made clear he did not see the United States as a potential aggressor.
In an apparent attempt to calm any tensions about his nuclear comments, Trump said in a statement on Friday that he had received “a very nice letter” from Putin earlier this month calling for stronger relations between the two countries.
— Reuters