Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again Rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017.
President Donald Trump touted the U.S. nuclear arsenal on Wednesday — but said he hopes he “will never have to use” it.
The American nuclear stockpile is “now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump claimed in a tweet. That discounts the fact that the U.S. has scaled back its nuclear arsenal since the 1980s.
The comments came a day after Trump threatened “fire and fury” if North Korea continues to make threats.
Trump’s comments follow the recent escalation in tensions with North Korea. It complicated matters for leaders aiming to deal with the isolated nation, as they already faced limited and difficult options.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson aimed to quell fears of rising conflict on Wednesday.
“I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” he said.
Trump ordered the Defense Department to review ways to modernize and strengthen nuclear defense capabilities in January, though it is not clear if it was his “first order as president,” as he claims. The Pentagon started a review of the Trump administration’s nuclear policy in April.
But it is unlikely major changes or improvements have taken place since the review started.
Trump’s boats about the U.S. arsenal’s strength follow a threat that some observers saw as brash and potentially dangerous. On Tuesday, Trump said “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.”
“They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” the president said. “He has been very threatening … and as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Later Tuesday, North Korea appeared to immediately cross that line. State media said that the country was considering a strategy to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with mid- to long-range missiles, according to Reuters.