Trump warns that U.S. nuclear arsenal is ‘more powerful than ever before’

President Trump continued to forcefully threaten North Korea on Wednesday, asserting that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

Trump’s projection of U.S. nuclear strength comes during a moment of rhetorical brinkmanship between him and North Korea’s erratic leader, Kim Jong-Un. Trump used extraordinarily chilling language for a U.S. president on Tuesday afternoon when he warned that North Korea’s nuclear provocations would be “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Trump continued with the same tone in a pair of tweets he issued Wednesday morning from Bedminster, N.J., where he is on a working vacation at his private golf resort. He wrote that his administration was working to “renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.”

“It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump wrote. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….

…Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!

Trump’s suggestion that the nuclear arsenal already has been modernized under his presidency is misleading at best, considering the process could take many more months or even years.

People walk by a TV screen showing a local news program reporting with an image of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.© AP Photo/Lee Jin-man People walk by a TV screen showing a local news program reporting with an image of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.

On Jan. 27, one week after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order directing the Department of Defense to launch a Nuclear Posture Review, a major undertaking that will set his administration’s nuclear policy. The Pentagon has said the review, which officially began in April, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Full modernization of the arsenal could then take many years.

The last such review was conducted in 2010 under President Obama. The new review is expected to guide the Defense Department as it builds new nuclear-capable submarines, bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles in coming years.

Meanwhile, White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said in a Wednesday morning television interview that the brinksmanship with North Korea “is analogous to the Cuban missile crisis.” Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president who works on the national security staff, warned, “Don’t test this White House.”

“He’s saying, ‘Don’t test America, and don’t test Donald J. Trump,'” Gorka said on “Fox & Friends,” the Trump-friendly morning show on Fox News Channel that the president often watches.

Gorka added, “We are not just a superpower. We were a superpower. We are not a hyperpower. Nobody in the world, especially not North Korea, comes close to challenging our military capabilities, whether they’re conventional, whether they’re nuclear, or whether they’re special forces. So this message is very clear: Don’t test this White House.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump retweeted links to two segments from “Fox & Friends” recounting his pledge to respond to continuing North Korea threats with “fire and fury,” as well as another about the United States moving two Air Force B-1B bombers to Guam, the U.S. territory that North Korea threatened Tuesday.

In December, before taking office, Trump created consternation for many foreign policy experts with an assertion on Twitter that the country should “greatly strengthen and expand” its nuclear capability.

The next day, after his staff had tried to temper his comments, Trump doubled down. telling a television talk-show host that in an arms race against any competitor, the United States would “outmatch them at every pass.”

Philip Rucker, John Wagner