President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin both expressed their support for expanding their respective nations' nuclear capabilities in separate statements on Thursday. The Russian leader told an annual meeting with his chiefs of defense that the Russian arsenal was already capable of overcoming any potential aggressors, but that nuclear expansion should be a goal for the upcoming year. Later that same day, Trump tweeted his desire to "greatly strengthen and expand" the U.S.' nuclear capability until "the world came to its sense" on nuclear warfare. The United Nation's 1968 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty recognizes only five countries as being nuclear-weapon states, which represent the five permanent members of the National Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, the U.K. and France. Other countries, such as Pakistan, India and North Korea, have openly developed and detonated nuclear weapons despite not signing the treaty.
To the editor: After endless promises that nuclear waste could be stored safely, we now learn that there is no place to safely store tens of thousands of tons of uranium and plutonium for hundreds of thousands of years. The current industry "solution" is to store it unsafely where it was generated (near major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Diego) or to get political revenge and force it on Nevada (a state that produces no nuclear waste and continues to suffer from 928 atom bomb tests). Did anyone notice that two of Florida's nuclear power plants quickly shut down before the hurricane? Or that South Carolina has abandoned construction of two new plants after wasting $8 billion on them? How about the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station being closed following a generator failure and radiation accident?
Saudi Arabia's crown prince has announced his country's readiness to develop nuclear weapons in the event that Iran heads in that direction. The kingdom has expressed alarm at what it views as creeping Iranian influence in the region and has stepped up its efforts to contain what it considers Iran's expansion through proxy conflicts and direct military engagement in Yemen. "Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible," Mohammad bin Salman, popularly known as MBS, told US broadcaster CBS in an interview set to air on Sunday. Bin Salman, 34, reiterated statements made earlier comparing Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Adolf Hitler. "He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time," the prince told CBS. "Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East."
South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country's dependence on nuclear power, warning of "unimaginable consequences" from a Fukushima-style meltdown. Moon, a left-leaning liberal who won last month's presidential election by a landslide following the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye, said he would increase the role of renewable energy and lead South Korea towards a "nuclear-free era". Speaking at an event to mark the closure of the country's oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1, he said: "So far, South Korea's energy policy pursued cheap prices and efficiency. "Cheap production prices were considered the priority while the public's life and safety took a back seat. "We will abolish our nuclear-centred energy policy and move towards a nuclear-free era.
Whether or not Donald Trump has the right temperament to maintain control over the country's nuclear weapons has been fiercely debated. But now that he is the next president, his temperament is irrelevant. He'll have authority over the nuclear codes whether his critics like it or not. The real question now is can Trump, as president, initiate nuclear warfare all on his own? The answer, in a word, is yes.