President-elect Donald Trump reportedly doubled down on his call Thursday to “greatly strengthen and expand” the United States’ nuclear capability.
In a conversation with NBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Trump reportedly said: “Let it be an arms race.”
Brzezinski shared Trump’s off-the-air remarks with viewers on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday after she said she spoke with Trump and asked him to clarify his tweet.
“Let it be an arms race,” Brzezinski said Trump had told her. ”We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) December 23, 2016
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that America’s nuclear capabilities would be necessary until the world “came to its senses” on nuclear weapons:
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
As the The Guardian noted, Trump’s statement Thursday came after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.”
At a news conference Friday, Putin seemed undisturbed by the nuclear developments.
“Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case,” he said, according to the New York Times, adding: “As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his election campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general.”
“It’s not us who have been speeding up the arms race,” he also said, according to AP.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s incoming White House press secretary, said that Trump’s comments were a “response” to other countries talking about bolstering their own nuclear capabilities.
“It was in response to a lot of countries. Russia, China and others are talking about expanding their nuclear capability,” he said on Fox News, according to the Associated Press.
“We’re not going to sit back and watch other nations threaten our safety,” he said on NBC’s “Today.”