The more willing leaders are to use nuclear weapons, the less likely they will need to do so. Leaders heighten the risk — making the weapons faster, more powerful and harder to stop — so as to minimize it. They make the weapons more usable precisely because they are not.
There is little in Mr. Trump’s comments to suggest that he intended to highlight this contradiction, but that is what he did in asking why the United States bothers to develop extravagantly expensive weapons it never intends to set off.
“If it seems scary or dangerous that we hinge as much of our security as we do on this contradiction, that’s because it is,” said Kingston Reif, a nuclear expert at the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
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