War­head wish led to ‘mo­ron’ jibe

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: A call by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for an eight­fold in­crease in the num­ber of US nu­clear war­heads led to his sec­re­tary of state call­ing him a mo­ron, ac­cord­ing to new re­ports of a meet­ing at the Pen­tagon.

Trump made the re­quest in July, dur­ing a wide-rang­ing re­view of Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary po­si­tion and after be­ing shown a slide de­pict­ing the size of the US nu­clear ar­se­nal, three of­fi­cials who were in the room told NBC News.

He is said to have pointed out the high­est num­ber on the chart - about 32,000 nu­clear war­heads in the late 1960s - and told his ad­vis­ers that he wanted to have a sim­i­lar num­ber once more.

The US is es­ti­mated to have about 4000 war­heads.

Se­nior ad­vis­ers ex­plained that the re­quest would break an ar­ray of weapons treaties and risk trig­ger­ing a new global arms race. The meet­ing in­cluded Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dun­ford, De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis, and Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

After Trump had left the meet­ing, Tiller­son al­legedly called the pres­i­dent a mo­ron.

Trump yes­ter­day dis­missed the story as in­ac­cu­rate, tweet­ing: ‘‘Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘ ten­fold’ in­crease in our US nu­clear ar­se­nal. Pure fic­tion, made up to de­mean.’’

He added on Twit­ter: ‘‘With all of the Fake News com­ing out of NBC and the Net­works, at what point is it ap­pro­pri­ate to chal­lenge their Li­cence? Bad for coun­try!’’

Broad­cast li­censes are ad­min­is­tered by the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, and are not usu­ally re­voked un­less a holder com­mits se­ri­ous il­le­gal con­duct.

Trump had de­scribed the al­leged ‘‘mo­ron’’ com­ment as fake news on Wednesday but added that he and Tiller­son should per­haps com­pare IQ scores.

News of Trump’s nu­clear re­quest has emerged as his White House faces two nu­clear-based chal­lenges, in North Korea and Iran. US strate­gic bombers again car­ried out ex­er­cises close to North Korea yes­ter­day, hours after Trump and a group of se­nior ad­vis­ers, in­clud­ing Tiller­son and Mat­tis, met to dis­cuss their strat­egy to­wards Py­ongyang.

North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yong-ho said yes­ter­day Trump’s bel­li­cose rhetoric had ‘‘lit the wick of a war against us’’.

‘‘We need to set­tle the fi­nal score, only with a hail of fire, not words,’’ Ri told Rus­sian news agency Tass.

Cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts also said that North Korean hack­ers had tar­geted US elec­tric­ity companies. The hack­ers sent ‘‘spearfish­ing’’ emails to com­pany ex­ec­u­tives. If opened, the mes­sages would in­stall mal­ware on their net­work, ac­cord­ing to FireEye, a se­cu­rity com­pany.

Sep­a­rately, Trump is ex­pected to with­draw his bless­ing from the Iran nu­clear deal as soon as this week­end, ig­nor­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from his se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers and al­lies, in­clud­ing Bri­tain. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has urged Trump to stick to the deal.

Trump must guar­an­tee to the US Con­gress ev­ery 90 days that Iran is ful­fill­ing its com­mit­ments un­der the deal. If he does not, then Con­gress has 60 days in which to de­cide whether to reap­ply sanc­tions.

White House of­fi­cials also said that Trump planned to des­ig­nate the Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard as a ter­ror­ist group in a state­ment this week.

The US State Depart­ment an­nounced yes­ter­day that it was of­fer­ing US$7 mil­lion and US$5m re­spec­tively for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rests of Hezbol­lah lead­ers Talal Hamiyah, who leads its ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity or­gan­i­sa­tion, and Fuad Shukr, a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tive. - The Times

PHOTO: REUTERS

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump awaits the ar­rival of Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at the White House yes­ter­day.

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