The president was apparently dismayed at the downward trend showing a drop in the stockpile since the late 1960s.
Photo via AP Photo/Evan Vucci. Social photos via US Federal Government and NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.
According to NBC News, President Trump reportedly told the country's top national security officials he wanted to increase America's nuclear arsenal after seeing a Powerpoint slide in a meeting that showed how the stockpile has shrunk since the 1960s.
Trump reportedly made the suggestion during a July 20 Pentagon meeting after seeing a chart that showed the drop in US nuclear weapons from roughly 32,000 in the late 60s to around 4,000 today. After seeing the downward trend, Trump reportedly told his team he wanted to ramp up America's arsenal back to that peak. He also apparently asked for an increase in US troops and military equipment, two officials at the meeting told NBC.
As NBC points out, stockpiling more nukes would violate disarmament treaties we've struck with countries across the globe and could trigger round two of a Cold War–style arms race. Thankfully, sources said that there are no actual plans to ramp up the US nuclear arsenal—something Trump has since claimed he never suggested and dubbed a "made up story."
"There hasn't been a military mission that's required a nuclear weapon in 71 years," nuclear expert Joe Cirincione told NBC. "If he were to increase the numbers, the Russians would match him, and the Chinese."
The July 20 meeting reportedly took place just a day after Trump, members of his Cabinet, and Pentagon officials met in the Situation Room, where the president floated the idea of canning the commander of US forces in Afghanistan—apparently comparing the situation to the renovation of a New York restaurant. The officials present were reportedly so shocked, they decided to hold a meeting in the Pentagon the next day.
The plan, a person familiar with the discussion told NBC, was "to slow down a little and explain the whole world" to the president.
After the July 20 meeting—which also included the secretary of state, Steve Bannon, and Vice President Mike Pence—Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron." Trump's since challenged his secretary of state to compare IQ scores, which might not be such a great idea considering the reported details of the aforementioned meeting.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.
Related: Trump vs. North Korea