Trump rejected the NBC News report as "pure fiction, made up to demean." He equated NBC News to one of his main media targets, CNN.
President Trump earlier this year said he desired what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in America’s nuclear arsenal, according to NBC News.
NBC News on Wednesday reported that Trump’s remarks came during a gathering this past summer of the highest ranking national security leaders in the U.S.
Three officials who were present said that Trump made the comment after seeing a briefing slide depicting the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s.
Trump noted he wanted a bigger stockpile, according to the officials, rather than the bottom position on that falling curve.
The officials added that Trump’s words surprised his advisers present, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Some Twitter users on Wednesday expressed alarm about Trump’s reported remarks during a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon.
It needs updated. The arsenal is rotting and decaying. The warheads at this point are more of a hassle than anything.— Zach Hanek (@HaloTheWolf) October 11, 2017
NBC News’ sources said Trump was referencing a slide showing that the U.S. had about 32,000 nuclear weapons in the late 1960s.
Trump told his team that he wanted the U.S. to boast that amount of arms now, a remark his advisers then outlined as not feasible.
Two senior administration officials cited U.S. treaty obligations and budget restraints as hurdles to such an expansion.
The Federation of American Scientists says that American currently sports about 4,000 nuclear warheads in its nuclear stockpile.
Trump’s advisers also noted that America’s total conventional and nonconventional military stockpile leaves it stronger defensively then when its nuclear arsenal alone was bigger.
Two officials present added that Trump also said he wanted more U.S. military equipment and troops during the meeting.
NBC’s sources noted that no expansion of the nuclear arsenal is currently planned, with some adding they did not take Trump’s comments as a literal request for more weapons.