Donald Trump comment may have sparked damaging nuclear arms race, UN warns

Matilda Long

The UN has condemned a comment by Donald Trump in which he encouraged US allies to acquire nuclear weapons – accusing him of causing “damage” over attempts to maintain peace with North Korea.

The warning comes amid fears a ‘nuclear domino effect’ could result from Kim Jon-un’s increasingly belligerent behaviour with regards to tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to a new UN report.

Comments made by Mr Trump made during his presidential campaign and questions surrounding the credibility of America’s policy of deterrence have also cause irrevocable damage, the paper by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research added.

Researchers found that the failure of the U.S. and United Nations to halt the escalation of Pyongyang’s military power has lead to a desire in South Korea to take matters into its own hands.

The report said: ‘The DPRK’s belligerence could spark a nuclear domino effect.

‘Frustrated by Washington’s inability to stop Pyongyang’s nuclearisation, an increasing number of ROK politicians are calling for their State to fight fire with fire by itself developing nuclear weapons.’

North Korea soldiers take part in a display of military might in Pyongyang (AP)
North Korea soldiers take part in a display of military might in Pyongyang (AP)

More than 60% of South Koreans support the idea, according to opinion polls, despite the fact that this ‘could spark Japan also to acquire nuclear weapons.’

The issue was exacerbated by the inflammatory threats made by Mr Trump during his presidential campaign.

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‘Nuclear proliferation by United States’ allies was encouraged when Donald Trump as a presidential candidate in spring 2015 suggested that they acquire nuclear weapons for self-protection if they did not want to pay more for the United States’ security guarantees,’ the paper said.

‘After hearing from senior Republican Senators what a bad idea it was to abandon the non-proliferation stance of every one of his predecessors, Trump later denied having said this.

‘Yet the damage was done.’

The research further calls into question the credibility of the U.S.’s continued policy of deterrence, beginning with the Obama regime, saying that inaction in the past had weakened America’s position.

The UNIDIR said that ‘analysts also questioned the credibility of the United States’ extended deterrence when President Obama did not attack the Syrian Arab Republic after it crossed his stated red line on chemical weapons use and when he did not respond militarily to Russia’s seizure of Crimea.’

President Trump has also hinted heavily at his willingness to press the nuclear red button, removing the ‘stability and predictability on which sound nuclear deterrence must be based.’

A tweet that North Korea would never get to the point of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile hinted at a pre-emptive strike, and the now-President reportedly ‘asked an advisor repeatedly “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”’

If the behaviour of Kim Jong-un or Mr Trump causes the collapse of deterrence, the fall-out would be ‘catastrophic’.

North Korea is currently the most militarised nation in the world, and added nuclear weapons to its military arsenal in the last decade.

It is capable of firing 1,00km range missiles, reaching Japan and South Korea, and is developing a long-range missile that could launch a nuclear strike against the U.S.