Bob Woodward: US in nuclear arms race with Russia

Journalist Bob Woodward says President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE recognizes the U.S. must keep pace with Russia’s growing nuclear arsenal.

“You talk to the military and the intelligence people and they say, ‘This is a giant buildup,’” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday. "I think what’s happened here is Trump is responding to this.”

“This is years of work to build up the nuclear deterrence that this country has,” added Woodward, whose reporting helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. "I think if you asked Trump he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s job one. We’ve got to do that.’”

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“Our weapons are very old. They go back to the Kennedy and Reagan buildup. If you look at plans for say, new ballistic submarines, they’re 10 years away. [It’s going to be] very expensive, very controversial, so keep your seatbelts on, once again.”

Woodward said he recently spoke with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, about the president-elect's strategy for handling Russia’s nuclear weapons expansion.

“What Flynn said is that Trump is convinced that we have to modernize, spend vast amounts of money on this, and bring ourselves in a position of strength,” he said of his talk with Flynn Monday.

“It’s kind of a page from the Reagan playbook — talk tough, act tough, build up and then, I guess, presumably, negotiate,” Woodward added, referencing former President Ronald Reagan.

Trump last week tweeted about expanding America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, without making clear what inspired his remark.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he said Dec. 22.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the same day his nation must “strengthen [its] strategic nuclear forces” to handle any potential global threat.

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski claimed last Friday Trump privately told her he is comfortable with a nuclear arms race as the U.S. can “outlast” any other nation.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller, however, clarified that the president-elect’s remarks were “referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it."