Nuclear experts: Trump tweets could provoke global crisis
© Getty Images

Nuclear arms experts warn that tweets from President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE could bait countries with nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent spoke with several nuclear experts about the potential impacts of Trump’s tweet published last week, in which he said the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”

“Imagine we’re in a crisis — if he recklessly Tweets, people could read these things in the worst possible light,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear non-proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. “The North Koreans have a plan to use nuclear weapons very early in a conflict. They’re not going to wait around. If they think we are going, they’re going to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and Japan.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Lewis also told the Post that if Trump “says the wrong thing” and “gives the impression that we’re about to act” with nuclear weapons, North Korea could use that as “their signal that they have to go.”

Bruce Blair, a nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University, told the Post that it would be easy to read Trump’s tweets as warnings to other world leaders. He said Trump conducting “nuclear diplomacy by Twitter” could make an already prevalent situation much worse.

“Almost any threat could be perceived as warranting some sort of response that’s not only rhetorical, but operational,” Blair said.