Trump Bashed Nuclear Arms Treaty During Call with Putin: Report

News & Politics

Donald Trump can't remember what the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty is, but he knows he hates it. That was merely the most distressing finding from an exclusive story that Reuters broke Thursday afternoon, which followed the president's first call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the end of January. There were others.

According to multiple U.S. officials with knowledge of the meeting, Trump "paused to ask his aides" what the agreement was mid-conversation. The president also reportedly said New START was one of several "bad deals" with Russia and boasted to Putin of his popularity—this after bragging about his electoral college victory to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The White House declined to comment and referred Reuters to its official account.

Signed in Prague in 2010, the New START agreement calls for both countries to radically reduce their number of strategic nuclear warheads by 2018. It also "limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers." Thirteen Republican senators voted in its favor, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently voiced his support for the treaty during Senate confirmation hearings. "[We must] stay engaged with Russia, hold them accountable to commitments made under the New START and also ensure our accountability as well," he said. 

A failure to extend New START could trigger an arms race between the two nuclear powers.

Trump's call with Putin is only the latest in a long line of troubling remarks the president has made about the use of nuclear weapons. During the Republican primary, he claimed Russia had "outsmarted" the U.S. with the arms reduction treaty, which he called "START-up." In December of 2016, he informed Mika Brzezinski on "Morning Joe" that he welcomes nuclear proliferation, news "Morning Joe" hosts broke to the world while wearing Christmas pajamas. Prior to that, Trump told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that he'd consider using a nuclear weapon on ISIS. "I would never take any of my cards off the table," he said. "Somebody hits us within ISIS—you wouldn't fight back with a nuke?"

Read more at Reuters.

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