Washington Post — By John Wagner and Philip Rucker August 9 at 1:37 PM
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump asserted Wednesday that under his tenure, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” making an inflated claim as he continued to ratchet up the heated rhetoric with North Korea.
Trump’s projection of U.S. nuclear strength comes during a moment of rhetorical brinkmanship between him and North Korea’s erratic leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump used extraordinarily chilling language for a U.S. president on Tuesday afternoon when he warned that North Korea’s nuclear provocations would be “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Trump continued with the same tone in a pair of tweets he sent Wednesday morning from Bedminster, N.J., where he is on a working vacation at his private golf resort. Trump relayed that his “first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.”
“It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump wrote, adding that “hopefully we will never have to use this power.”
Trump’s suggestion, however, that the nuclear arsenal already has been modernized under his presidency is misleading at best, given the military is still operating under a course charted during the Obama administration and any additional modernization could take many years to implement.
“Nothing’s happened yet,” said Todd Harrison, director of Defense Budget Analysis at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. “Obviously, these changes take time. You can’t do much in six or seven months.”
On Jan. 27, one week after his inauguration, Trump issued a congressionally mandated order directing the Defense Department to launch a Nuclear Posture Review, a major undertaking that will set his administration’s nuclear policy.