Donald Trump is famously tight-lipped. That’s why, when he revealed the existence of an “incredible” new secret nuclear weapon system in an interview with Washington Post editor Bob Woodward, even his own top nuclear commander didn’t know what he was talking about.
Experts outside of government could barely surmise what the weapon might be. Some suggested Trump was referring to a mini-nuke, recently deployed atop missiles on US submarines. Others thought he was talking about the Super Duper Missile.
These guesses are obviously wrong. (The Super Duper Missile is not even nuclear.) Worse, they’re an affront to the president’s uncanny ability to think big. There’s not just one, but at least eight state-of-the-art nuclear systems that Trump has been looking at since he came into office. Many of them, if not already deployed, are slated to come online well before his third term.
A nuclear winter machine. As the realities of climate change sink in, President Trump has been looking for a quick fix to make it all go away. When he visited wildfire-ravaged California on September 14 and confidently told officials there that, “It’ll start getting cooler,” they might not have been so incredulous if they had known about this secret system.
A nuclear football, to make the game more interesting. At recent campaign rallies, President Trump has complained that football is “boring as hell” now that players are allowed to openly protest racial injustice without facing punishment from the NFL. When one of his aides who carries the 45-pound briefcase that enables the president to authorize a nuclear strike at any time reminded him that the luggage is sometimes called “the football,” Trump responded, “Nuclear football—I like the sound of that. A nuclear football.”
A larger nuclear button. In 2018, President Trump coolheadedly put North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his place by asserting that his own nuclear button was the larger and more functional of the two. (Wisely, he never revealed its precise dimensions.) Since then, he has been working on enlarging the button—prototypes are now 16 feet in diameter—to stay a step ahead in the great power competition. Although Trump wants to go even bigger, aides have pushed back, saying anything larger won’t fit under the Oval Office rug.
A nuclear-armed hurricane. Last year, President Trump was interested in exploring whether nuclear weapons could be used to stop hurricanes. Trump eventually realized that unleashing the power of one against the other would not work out so well. So, he thought, why not put them together?
A nuclear-powered Putin clone. President Trump has long admitted to being a big fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And when Putin unveiled several new Russian weapon systems in 2018 that he called “invincible,” Trump began thinking long and hard about how he could outmatch Putin’s cunning. He decided he wanted a Putin of his own.
A “nuclear option” for the border wall. In 2018, when the president heard lawmakers referring to a “nuclear option” to secure border wall funding, he got to thinking: Is there a bomb that could do the trick?
An Iranian “gift.” President Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in renegotiating President Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, believing that getting Iran to give up its nuclear weapons will make him a strong candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. When advisers informed him that Iran doesn’t actually have any nuclear weapons, Trump set Pentagon officials to work on figuring out how to make a Bomb that they can give to Iran, so he can then negotiate it back.
A nuke the United States can use on itself and allies. President Trump is running for reelection on a “law and order” platform and, while his record is quite strong, he thought that one way to firm it up would be with a credible nuclear threat that could help in Portland. Or in negotiations over European spending on NATO.
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