In this week’s fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper and FactCheck.org review the accuracy of President Donald Trump’s tweet about the modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons program.
The president tweeted that his “first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal” and “it is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.” But, as we wrote, Trump’s “first order” was not about nuclear weapons, and the modernization plans now underway were started during the Obama administration.
Trump issued a presidential memorandum on Jan. 27 that, among other things, directed the secretary of defense to initiate a Nuclear Posture Review “to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.” It was his 13th order, not his first. And that review did not start until April and is not scheduled to be completed until the end of the year.
There is an ongoing modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, but it was initiated under President Barack Obama, not Trump. The modernization plans — which the Congressional Budget Office says will cost $400 billion over 10 years — were initiated after the Obama administration completed its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010. The Defense Department is now in the early stages of modernizing its fleet of nuclear submarines, Navy bombers and land-based missiles, as well as extending the life of existing nuclear programs.
In the post-Cold War era, all U.S. presidents since Bill Clinton have undertaken Nuclear Posture Reviews at the beginning of their administrations.